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This paper develops the phenomenological framework and methodology of "conceptual dynamics" in order to identify student views of the physical world and to explore the dynamic process by which these views are transformed during instruction. Conceptual dynamics aids the determination of the multiple student views, even for large numbers of students in instructional settings, and provides a method for the ordering of student views into learning hierarchies. The methods of conceptual dynamics are then applied to student views in a specific area of physics—force and motion, the behavior of objects moving as a result of forces acting on them. Common student views of force and motion for the different cases that students distinguish are articulated and learning hierarchies are established that allow a statistical prediction of student progression through the various views. Newton's First and Second Laws, for example, become the Four Student Laws of Force and Motion where different force and motion relationships apply to objects standing still, slowing down, moving at a constant velocity, and speeding up. Students adopt a physicist view of the four cases of motion in the order listed. Student descriptions of each view, in their own words, are given. Data is presented to support a model for the transition from one view to another that postulates that many students move through a transitional state when changing views.
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