The Washback Effect of the Entrance Exam of the Universities (EEU) on the Iranian Pre-university Students’ English Learning

By Melor Md Yunus and Hadi Salehi.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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 pre-university 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.

Keywords: EEU, Washback, High-stakes Exam, Stakeholder

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp.101-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 940.172KB).

Dr. Melor Md Yunus

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Melor Md. Yunus is a senior lecturer of TESL at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She holds a B.A. in English (Linguistics) from the University of Nevada-Reno, USA and an M.A. in TESL from the Arizona State University, USA. She then earned her Ph.D in Education (TESL) from the University of Bristol, UK. Her areas of concentration are TESL, language pedagogy and the use of technology in TESL. Currently she teaches TESL methods and teaching of writing courses, as well as graduate courses in research methodology and academic writing.

Hadi Salehi

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Education , Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Najafabad, Isfahan, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Hadi Salehi is in the Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Isfahan, Iran. He is a Ph.D candidate in TESL at National University of Malaysia (UKM). He received his BA in English Literature from Isfahan University, Iran, and his MA in TEFL from Tehran Payamenur University. He teaches English to speakers of other languages in Kuala Lumpur. His main research interests include Language Learning Strategies, Material Development, and Language Assessment.

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