This paper reports the results of an exploratory study aimed to determine university students’ expectations and beliefs in a problem-based introductory physics course, how those expectations compare to that of students in other universities, and change as a result of one semester of instruction. In total, 264 freshmen engineering students of Dokuz Eylul University (DEU) in Izmir, Turkey enrolled in the study. The study involved two groups, first group (n = 100) was instructed via modular-based active learning (problembased learning [PBL]) method and second group (n = 164) by traditional lecture method. Data were collected through pre and post application of the Maryland Physics Expectations (MPEX) survey. Students’ average favorable and unfavorable percentage scores were determined. The results showed that average favorable scores of both groups were substantially lower than that of experts and that of other university students reported in the literature. Students’ favorable scores have dropped significantly after one semester of instruction. PBL and traditional groups displayed similar degree of ‘expert’ beliefs. The results of this study showed that university students’ expectations and beliefs about physics and physics learning have deteriorated as a result of one semester of instruction whether in PBL or traditional context. Implications of the results were discussed.
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