A literature review on the definition of the concept of weight

Creative Commons License

Taşkın T., Karadağ M.

PHYSICS EDUCATION, vol.57, no.6, pp.1-12, 2022 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 57 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1088/1361-6552/ac8a83
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Communication Abstracts, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), INSPEC, DIALNET, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-12
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


The weight, one of the key concepts of physics education, still continues to be discussed among physics educators. Today, there are two main definitions as the 'gravitational' and 'operational', but there are differences even between them. It is important to know the different approaches found in textbooks in eliminating misconceptions and organizing the learning environment. Therefore, in this study, we examined the basic physics textbooks used as reliable sources in different universities in the world and aimed to reveal the differences of opinion in the literature in a single source. We examined the definitions in the textbooks for the concept of weight by using content analysis method in terms of vector and scalar characteristics. As a result of the analysis, we saw that the textbooks mostly (69.8%) define weight as a vector quantity. In addition, we determined that the definitions for being scalar started to be preferred after 2004. Moreover, we have determined that the gravitational and operational definitions have different interpretations, both as vectors and scalars, but the textbooks offer a single perspective for weight and do not include these different interpretations. We encountered the explanation of the differences of opinion in the literature only in one textbook.