The purpose of this study was to compare problem-based learning (PBL) and traditional lecture students’ expectations about physics and physics learning and course grades in an introductory physics classroom. A total of 264 (PBL, n = 100; traditional, n = 164) freshman engineering students of Dokuz Eylul University (DEU) in Izmir, Turkey participated in the study. Student expectations were measured through the pre and post application of the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX). Physics achievement data were obtained from students’ end-of-semester physics grades. Data were analyzed using the analyses of variance (ANOVA), the repeated measure and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) statistics. Results revealed that groups did not differ in their average MPEX scores as a result of one semester of instruction. Significant differences were determined in some components of the MPEX with respect to gender and instruction type. Overall, results of this study suggest that PBL approach has no positive influence on students’ achievement in and expectations about physics and physics learning for this particular group of students. Implications of the results for physics education and further research are discussed.
Key words: Expectations, introductory physics, problem-based learning, MPEX.
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