This study has been carried out within the REVIR scenario, which is a project promoting that secondary school students have access to a computerized laboratory at the Faculty of Education of our university and work in small groups during four hours with specific instructional material. One of the laboratory sessions included in the REVIR project deals with IR radiation-matter interaction, and is addressed to post-compulsory secondary students (16-18 year-old students). Within this framework, we have conducted a research study to analyse students' conceptualizations of the processes or mechanisms that take place in IR radiation-matter interaction (energy transfer, selective absorption), and its effects at a macroscopic level (temperature increase) and at a molecular level (vibration). For data collection, a question was posed to all students at the end of each REVIR session, asking students to relate what was described in an article about the application of an IR laser for acne treatment to what they had learnt throughout the session. The analysis of the 67 students' answers to that question revealed that many students explained the effects of the IR laser in vague terms, often repeating information included in the article, without explaining absorption of IR radiation in terms of energy. In consecutive versions of the instructional material, more oriented application questions were added after the article and explicit discussion around synthesis and exploratory (of students' previous ideas) questions was carried out during the session. From the analysis of 49 and 119 students' answers in consecutive later versions, we found that the introduction of these changes resulted in a greater number of students' descriptions in macroscopic and microscopic terms, and a lower number of answers simply repeating information extracted from the reading. Furthermore, more students explicitly explained absorption in terms of energy associated to IR light. Implications for the instructional design, in terms of critical features affecting people's abilities to transfer what they have learned, are discussed below.