Images in mirrors: Recollections, alternative explanations and modes of cognitive functioning

Brian Jones*, Kevin Collis, Jane Watson, Kimberley Foster, Sharon Fraser

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Students' conceptions of how objects are seen directly, and in mirrors, were explored in an analysis of their written and drawn responses to common visual phenomena depicted in cartoons with brief text. Students in Grades K-10 (n=214) completed a questionnaire and some were interviewed. Evidence was sought to support an hypothesis for increasingly sophisticated responses related to the concepts of sight, light, reflection and image. The developmental model used in this analysis was the updated SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1991; Collis & Biggs 1991). It appears from the results that different modes of functioning can interfere to produce factually incorrect recollections of experience particularly in the age group 7 to 13 years approximately. Also, this is associated with the common spurious conception that mirrors have a lateral inversion property. Explanations involving light were extremely rare and its role related to the production of an image 'in the mirror' but not to the perception of an image in the eyes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)191-200
    Number of pages10
    JournalResearch in Science Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1994


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