Some students believe the image in a mirror is on the mirror (rather than behind it)

Light, Sound and Waves


Resources to Address This

  • Seeing yourself in the mirror (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li03 PN07

    When you look in a mirror ... The image of your face appears to be behind the mirror. Indeed the farther you step back away from the mirror, the farther behind the mirror the image is.

    View Resource
  • Lenses and mirrors with rays (14-16)

    Ref - SPT Ra01 PN05 

    Ray diagrams can be used to predict the image position, even in curved mirrors.

    View Resource
  • The virtual image in a plane mirror (11-16)

    Ref - Practical Physics; Light and optics; Reflection of light; 

    The position of the image is shown to be behind the mirror (a virtual image).

    View Resource


  • Goldberg, F. M. and McDermott, L. C. () Student difficulties in understanding image formation by a plane mirror The Physics Teacher, 24,


    Review sheet

  • Watts, D. M. () Student Conceptions of Light: A case study. Physics Education, 20,


    Review sheet

  • Osbourne, J., Black, P., Smith, M., and Meadows, J. () Primary SPACE project - light, Liverpool University Press.

    Review sheet

  • Ramadas, J. and Driver, R. () Aspects of secondary students' ideas about light, University of Leeds Centre for Studies in Science & Mathematics Education.

    Review sheet

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