This paper argues that lecturers may provide insufficient challenge when teaching first year university physics courses, which may contribute to unsatisfactory learning outcomes. Comparisons in learning outcomes between a traditional teaching group and a constructivist orientated teaching group were investigated along with lecturers' and students' perceptions of those courses by interview and survey. Three main findings emerged from this study. The lecturers emphasised the students' poor physics background and adopted strategies to diminish the possible cognitive challenge in their teaching design. However, the students' concerns about the difficulty of the course seemed to be very minor. Finally, this study found that a teaching strategy of increasing the cognitive challenge for the students was likely to encourage an adoption of a comprehension learning approach, highlight the needs for learning university physics, and to promote cognitive engagement and learning commitment.
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