The washback effect of the entrance exam of the universities (EEU) on the Iranian pre-university students' english learning

Melor Md Yunus, Hadi Salehi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Entrance Exam of the Universities (EEU) in Iran is considered as the sole criterion for admission into higher education. This high-stakes exam is a combination of some multiple-choice items regarding most of the courses that the students have been taught during a period of four years of study in high schools and pre-university centers. This study aimed to address the washback effect of the English section of this nationwide exam on the Iranian pre-university students' English learning. To explore the effects of this exam, two questionnaires, one for the students and one for the English teachers, were developed and validated. The students' questionnaire was administered to thirty preuniversity students who were randomly selected from a pre-university center located in the city of Isfahan, Iran. The teachers' questionnaire was also administered by e-mail to thirty-six randomly selected Iranian high school English teachers. The findings of the study showed that the EEU was negatively directing the pre-university students and their English teachers towards doing grammar-based exercises using Persian language as the medium of instruction in English classrooms. Additionally, little attention was given to the three language skills of speaking, writing, and listening as these skills are not tested in the EEU. A revision of the EEU format is recommended which can, in turn, affect teaching and learning activities in the high schools and pre-university centers. Moreover, the necessity of conducting various research studies on the stakeholders of this high-stakes exam to know their perceptions and attitudes towards this exam seems apparent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-126
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Learning
Volume18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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university
learning
student
teacher
Iran
questionnaire
school
language
e-mail
grammar
speaking
stakeholder
instruction
classroom
Teaching
education

Keywords

  • EEU
  • High-stakes exam
  • Stakeholder
  • Washback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

Cite this

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abstract = "The Entrance Exam of the Universities (EEU) in Iran is considered as the sole criterion for admission into higher education. This high-stakes exam is a combination of some multiple-choice items regarding most of the courses that the students have been taught during a period of four years of study in high schools and pre-university centers. This study aimed to address the washback effect of the English section of this nationwide exam on the Iranian pre-university students' English learning. To explore the effects of this exam, two questionnaires, one for the students and one for the English teachers, were developed and validated. The students' questionnaire was administered to thirty preuniversity students who were randomly selected from a pre-university center located in the city of Isfahan, Iran. The teachers' questionnaire was also administered by e-mail to thirty-six randomly selected Iranian high school English teachers. The findings of the study showed that the EEU was negatively directing the pre-university students and their English teachers towards doing grammar-based exercises using Persian language as the medium of instruction in English classrooms. Additionally, little attention was given to the three language skills of speaking, writing, and listening as these skills are not tested in the EEU. A revision of the EEU format is recommended which can, in turn, affect teaching and learning activities in the high schools and pre-university centers. Moreover, the necessity of conducting various research studies on the stakeholders of this high-stakes exam to know their perceptions and attitudes towards this exam seems apparent.",
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