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The aim of this study was to explore and analyse 'spontaneous' ways of reasoning (SWR) of students in elementary kinematics (uniform motion in Galilean frames). A set of experiments presented to 80 eleven-year-old children and to some 700 first- and fourth-year university students showed types of right and wrong answer which varied little from one sample of pupils to another. It seems difficult to attribute these results solely to school learning; but they can be well accounted for if the authors assume the existence of an organised system which the authors call the 'natural model', as opposed to the kinematic model of the physicists. This model involves two components which always interact: a purely descriptive one describing motion, and a causal one explaining motion.
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