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The understanding of different aspects of the 'field' concept in electromagnetism was tested with high school students and prospective teachers of technological disciplines. Some of the observed difficulties could be interpreted as originating from the change in methodological approaches employed in different domains of physics: electromagnetism vis-a-vis mechanics. This may have encouraged students to misinterpret the nature of force interactions and work-energy conversions in the presence of electromagnetic fields. Clarification of the rationale for introducing the 'field' concept, especially in its historical aspect, could be useful in coping with the teaching-learning problems evidenced in this study and other research.
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