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We investigated students' use of Newton's second law in mechanics and electromagnetism contexts by interviewing students in a two-semester calculus based physics course. We observed that students' responses are consistent with three mental models, Newtonian, Aristotelian, and a hybrid model formed with elements of the first two models. These models appeared in mechanics contexts and were transferred to electromagnetism contexts. We developed an inventory to help instructors identify these models and direct students towards the correct one.
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