The effects of students’ previous learning on graph-comprehension in the English as second language (ESL) textbooks in a Pakistani university

Abstract

The recent emphasis on the importance of English language teaching and learning in public universities in Pakistan has resulted in the introduction of a new English as Second Language (ESL) programme including revised textbooks. The textbooks contains, among others, many exercises and activities which require learners to comprehend graphs, charts, diagrams and maps (hereafter ‘graphs’ will be used to refer to all of these terms). This paper examines the impact of students’ learning experiences of biology or maths subjects at the intermediate level (the A-level equivalent in Pakistan) in relation to their graph comprehension in the ESL textbooks in the first year of university. With a qualitative case study approach, the findings of this study are based on observations and interviews with purposively sampled seventeen students and four teachers from a public university located in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. The findings suggest that students’ previous learning experiences conflict with the graph based exercises in the ESL textbooks. When interacting with these exercises, students constructed their identities as ‘medical’ or ‘engineering’ students; underperformance in graph comprehension is explained in relation to being a medical student (and therefore from a biology background), while good performance is attributed to being an engineering student (and therefore from a maths background). These findings have implications for the course designers, teacher trainings and future researchers.

Rind, I. and Alhawsawi, S. (2013) The effects of students’ previous learning on graph-comprehension in the English as second language (ESL) textbooks in a Pakistani university. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 2(5). Available at: http://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=630 [Accessed 18 Nov, 2017].