Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




John R. Thompson

Second Committee Member

Michael C. Wittmann

Third Committee Member

Herman Weller


This paper discusses a survey developed to investigate student concepts of "gravity" among AST 109 astronomy students and pre-service K-12 teachers. Survey questions were developed or modified from those in the literature [Berg 1991, Dostal 2005]. Students were questioned on their reasoning about the behavior of objects on the surface of a planetary body (e.g., the Earth or the moon) and the causes of this behavior. Results of the survey successfully elicited student alternate conceptions with various aspects of gravity. These misconceptions include the tendency to attribute gravity to the presence of an atmosphere, and the belief that a threshold amount of gravity, mass, or weight is necessary for free-fall to occur.