Some students consider light as separate from seeing

Light, Sound and Waves


For example, the presence of light causes a room to be lit up, but it doesn't need to go into the eyes.

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

  • Seeing with light  (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 PN02

    We are able to see objects when light from them enters the eye.  This activity looks at light from luminous objects and reflected light from non-luminous objects.

    View Resource
  • How do we see? (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li01 TL05

    This resource explores how we see by discussing a number of 'wrong tracks' and a 'right lines' statement.

    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

  • Andersson, B and Kärrqvist, C. () How Swedish pupils, aged 12‐15 years, understand light and its properties. European Journal of Science Education, 5 (4)


    DOI: 10.1080/0140528830050403.

    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

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


    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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