Many students have only an intuitive idea of speed and cannot relate it to information on distance and time

Forces and Motion


Diagnostic Resources

The following questions all probe pupils’ understanding of the idea of speed, and are intended to be used in combination to explore understanding of this idea in some depth.

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

Resources to Address This

  • Increasing and Constant Speeds (5-11)

    This resource can help younger students disentangle the notion of speed. 

    View Resource
  • What speed? (11 - 14)

    A circus of activities for measuring the average speed of different objects. The purpose of this activity is for pupils to take measurements and to practise using the relationship: speed = distance/time.

    View Resource
  • Ticker-timers for investigating speed (14 - 16)

    Making ticker-timer charts can develop an understanding of speed-time graphs. The activity involves measuring distances and times.

    View Resource


  • Jones, A. T. () Investigation of Students' Understanding of Speed, Velocity and Acceleration. Research in Science Education, 13 (1), 95-104.

    From this study, it is clear that students can conflate velocity, speed and acceleration. With a sample of 30 students aged 11-16 in the US, the researchers found that confusion around one object passing another appeared regularly.

    Paper digest

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