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To gauge the impact of instruction on students' general expectations about physics and their attitudes about problem solving, we administered two different, but related, survey instruments to students in the first semester of introductory, calculus-based physics at McDaniel College. The surveys we used were the Maryland Physics Expectation Survey (MPEX) and the Attitudes about Problem Solving Survey (APSS). We found that the McDaniel College students' overall responses were more “expert-like” post-instruction: on the MPEX, the students' Overall agree/disagree score started at 59/18 and ended at 63/17, and on the APSS, the students' agreement-score went from 63 to 79. (All scores are out of 100%.) All of the students to whom we administered the MPEX and a significant sub-group to whom we administered the APSS realized these improvements without experiencing any explicit instructional intervention in this course aimed toward improving attitudes and expectations. These results contrast much of the previously reported findings in this area.
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