Making content easier or adding more challenge in year one university physics?

Wheijen Chang, Beverley Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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