Simplistic content in physics textbooks is creating confusion about momentum and kinetic energy, report Tom Bryce and Kenneth MacMillan, of Strathclyde University, after assessing the content of 42 physics textbooks for upper secondary school courses across the UK.
Professor Bryce and Mr MacMillan carried out the work after previous research and teachers' experiences showed difficulties among students in understanding the two concepts. They found that textbooks often avoided - or over-simplified - real-world applications, instead presenting students with "sanitised" problems. Calculations placed an emphasis on formulaic procedures, but few exercises required qualitative responses.
Number-crunching was found to dominate, while deep thinking was played down.