Investigating students’ mental models of forces

Program Code: 

Dr Kate Wilson (

Description of Work: 


Students entering university have a wide variety of conceptual frameworks / knowledge structures and mental models of forces. Students can be extremely resistant to changing these conceptual frameworks.

The aim of this project is to investigate the range of mental models of forces held by students at UNSW Canberra, and how these models were developed by the students. The project will also investigate how these models change through instruction or other influences. The UNSW Canberra context is interesting because of the spread of students from all Australian states. Collaboration with other institutions and comparison with other student cohorts is also possible.

The effectiveness of different types of instruction and learning activities including online and hands-on activities will also be assessed.  

Description of Work:

This project involves collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, including assessment results, surveys and interviews. The candidate will need to able to use, or be willing to learn, both qualitative and statistical data analysis techniques. The candidate may also be involved in designing and facilitating learning activities and evaluating their effectiveness. 

Also available as a Master by Research project(2651).

This project may also be undertaken in the School of Physical, Environmental & Mathematical Sciences as a PhD project (1892) or a Master by Research project (2931) under the supervision of Dr David Low (