Many students have difficulties in distinguishing between the ideas of ‘temperature’ and ‘heat’ and in using these terms appropriately

Energy and Thermal Physics


Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York BEST website.

Resources to Address This

  • Energy and temperature  (11-14) 

    Ref - SPT En05 PN05

    The energy in the thermal store is not the same as the temperature of an object.  This diagram gives a summary of the link between the two terms.

    View Resource
  • Heat and temperature (11-16)

    Ref - Practical Physics; Energy; Energy stored thermally; Heat and temperature

    One important aspect of students’ growing understanding of energy ideas involves sorting out the ideas of heat and temperature (hotness or coldness).

    View Resource


  • Chu, H; Treagust, D. F.; Yeo, S. and Zadnik, M. () Evaluation of Students' Understanding of Thermal Concepts in Everyday Contexts. International Journal of Science Education, 34, (10)


    Review sheet

  • Wiser, M. () Use of History of Science to Understand and Remedy Students' Misconceptions About Heat and Temperature, in David N. Perkins, Judah L. Schwartz, Mary Maxwell West, and Martha Stone Wiske (Eds), Software Goes to School: Teaching for Understanding with New Technologies. Oxford University Press, New York.

    Review sheet

  • Lee, C. K. () A Conceptual Change Model for Teaching Heat Energy, Heat Transfer and Insulation. Science Education International, 25, (4)


    Review sheet

  • M. Louisa, F. C. S. Veiga, D. J. V. Costa Pereira and R. Maskill. () Teachers' language and pupils' ideas in science lessons: Can teachers avoid reinforcing wrong ideas? International Journal of Science Education, 11 (4)


    Review sheet

  • Paik, S.H., Cho, B.K., Go Y.M. () Korean 4- to 11-Year-Old Student Conceptions of Heat and Temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, (2) published online in Wiley Interscience (,


    Review sheet

  • Geourgiou, H. and Sharma, M.D. () University students understanding of Thermal Physics in everyday contexts. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10,


    Review sheet

  • Christian H. Kautz, Paula R. L. Heron, Michael E. Loverude and Lillian C. Mc Dermott. () Student understanding of the gas law, part 2: A microscopic perspective, American Journal of Physics, 73 (11)

    1064 - 1071.

    Review sheet

  • Harrison, A. G, Grayson, D. J. and Treagus, D. F. () Investigating a grade 11 student's evolving conceptions of heat and temperature, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36 (1)


    Review sheet

  • Kesidou, S and Duit, R () Students' Conceptions of the Second Law of Thermodynamics - An Interpretive Study. Journal Of Research In Science Teaching, 30, (1)


    Review sheet

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