Some pupils have an understanding of how a reflective object interacts with light and the eye, but not unreflective objects

Light, Sound and Waves


Diagnostic Resources

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

Resources to Address This

  • Seeing with light (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 PN02

    This resource looks at luminous and non-luminous objects.

    View Resource
  • Reflection from any surface (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li03 TL02

    Start your teaching with the reflection of light from plane mirrors to establish the law of reflection, then move on to diffuse reflection from irregular surfaces. Emphasise that the law of reflection of individual rays of light applies to both regular and diffuse reflection.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Wenham, E. J. and Guesne, E. () The Place of Optics in Physics Teaching - Children's Ideas about Light. New Trends in Physics Teaching, IV, Paris, UNESCO publication,


    Review sheet

  • Eaton, J., Anderson, C.W. and Smith, E.L. () Students' misconceptions interfere with learning: case studies of fifth-grade students. Research Series 128, The Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University.

    Review sheet

  • Tekos, G. and Solomonidou, C. () Constructivist Learning and Teaching of Optics Concepts Using ICT tools in Greek Primary School: A Pilot Study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18 (5),


    Review sheet

IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Waves CPD videos

Our new set of videos gives teachers and coaches of physics a preview of the training we offer ahead of this term's live support sessions.

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