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Previous research indicates that after standard instruction, students at all levels often construct a conceptual framework in which the ideas of absolute simultaneity and the relativity of simultaneity co-exist. We describe the development and assessment of instructional materials intended to improve student understanding of the concept of time in special relativity, the relativity of simultaneity, and the role of observers in inertial reference frames. Results from pretests and post-tests are presented to demonstrate the effect of the curriculum in helping students deepen their understanding of these topics. Excerpts from taped interviews and classroom interactions help illustrate the intense cognitive conflict that students encounter as they are led to confront the incompatibility of their deeply held beliefs about simultaneity with the results of special relativity.
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