Saima Nomaan

Department: Graduate School of Education (Ed.D TESOL)
Discipline: Education
Research Centre/Unit: CRPL-Centre for Research and Professional Learning

Project Summary

1. ENGLISH LANGUAGE PEDAGOGY: AN EVALUATION OF ORAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS MATERIALS IN ELT BOOKS AT SECONDARY LEVEL IN PAKISTAN

In this linguistic research study, I explored and evaluated the oral communication skills materials/activities in two prominent ELT coursebooks taught in the state and private schools at the secondary level (10th Grade) in Pakistan. I included an overview of the status of English language learning with reference to oral communication skills at the secondary level in Pakistan and highlighted the problems faced by Pakistani students and teachers in the particular environment of the classroom.

I presented an overview of the prevalent situation and atmosphere of the classrooms along with the norms and practices in the teaching/learning process and reviewed the relevant literature of research studies in the field. I also highlighted a number of reasons and factors contributing to these norms and practices (e.g. obsolete teaching methods, untrained teachers, lack of/inadequate audio-visual aids, constraints of time and space, examination system, education policy and national curriculum, lack of oral communication skills practice (especially listening skill), school cultures and minimal exposure to L2 etc.). Moreover, I drew a comparison of the teaching and learning practices of the private and state schools, highlighting the differences in language pedagogy in both the systems of education. Thus, outlining the critical status of learning the English language at the secondary level in Pakistan. Additionally, using the methods of the first-glance and in-depth evaluation/analyses of the textbooks I highlighted the imbalance of four language skills materials and activities presented in these books and discussed the suitability and effectiveness of these coursebooks for selection for ELT at the secondary level in Pakistan. The data was collected, analyzed and compared numerically and graphically to highlight the differences of the two textbooks. The analyses indicated that coursebook used in private school was much better in terms of the definition and specifications of its aims and objectives, content and inclusion and presentation of oral communication skills activities/materials. I concluded the paper with some suggestions and remedial measures (e.g. new approaches to language teaching with emphasis on oral communication skills, provision of teaching aids, improved examination system and textbooks with inclusion and integration of materials/activities for the development of oral communication skills etc.) which aimed to improve the critical situation of learning English as a second language at secondary level in Pakistan.

2. JOHN STEINBECK AS A PROLETARIAN WRITER: A STUDY OF THE  ALLUSIONS AND IMAGERY IN HIS NOVELS; OF MICE AND MEN, THE PEARL, AND THE GRAPES OF WRATH

This literary research study was conducted in order to determine, to prove and establish a link between the proletarian attitude and themes of John Steinbeck with reference to his three specific novels; Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, and The Grapes of Wrath. It was also the objective of this research to investigate how the author’s use of allusions and imagery is linked and works together to create an overall design that established John Steinbeck as a proletarian writer. The three novels were thoroughly analyzed, interpreted and searched for allusions (literary, religious, mythical, social, and historical etc.) and imagery (especially animal and religious imagery) that contributed to a greater extent in creating the overall design and the effect of the novels. For this reason, the complete background information about the author and the times in which he was present, and which must have inspired and shaped his thoughts and ideas was included in the study.

The study primarily dealt with the author’s life, works, and the times, which influenced him as a writer and because of which he was critically acclaimed as a proletarian writer. It also explored the history of Proletarianism and dealt with the criticism made on the writer by various critics by reviewing the relevant literature. The analysis and interpretation of the chosen novels in terms of themes, allusions, and imagery was included and the reasons for how and why the author came to be known as a proletarian writer were searched for. 

 

3. DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT AT THE WORKPLACE: EFFECTS ON FACULTY AND THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF PROFESSIONALISM

No discrimination and equal opportunity for all in the corporate and public sectors is lauded and implemented ubiquitously in numerous contexts around the world and is considered an integral part of professionalism. The governments, the laws and the institutional policies in several countries in the world including the Middle East, also proclaim the provision and implementation of discrimination or differentiation-free work environment to their employees and its importance cannot be denied. This type of environment is particularly important in the educational workplace setups because it is crucial that students and faculty are treated equally without any discrimination based on gender, caste, creed, ethnicity or religion and that there is no or minimal practice of preferentialism, nepotism or cronyism to maximise the student and teacher potentials and productivity. However, contrary to these proclamations, it has been observed and reported that differential treatment of employees exists in many institutions and affects the workforce in several ways.

Thus, in my research study,  I explored and evaluated the impact of differential treatment employed on the faculty members by managers or administrators at the workplace in a major higher educational setup in a Middle Eastern country and how it affects faculty’s perceptions of their professionalism and their performance. For this purpose, using the qualitative research design, the data was collected by means of interviews and the relevant government and institutional policy documents review. The data analyses indicated that contrary to governmental and institutional policies, favouritism was the most common form of differential treatment exercised in this educational institution by the managers. Consequently, it negatively affected employees’ perceptions of their professionalism and motivation and subsequently, their performance.

4. CRITIQUING THE FACULTY APPRAISAL AND PROMOTION SYSTEM IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A CASE OF THE MIDDLE EAST

Faculty evaluation by students and appraisals by managers have been in practice and implemented ubiquitously in numerous educational contexts around the world for decades and are considered an integral part of the assessment systems of teacher effectiveness. Similarly, teacher tenure and promotions are also a hot topic for discussion in academic circles. While several studies have established the students’ faculty evaluations (SFEs) and managerial appraisals (MAs) as effective tools for determining teacher efficacy, others have expressed dissatisfaction with the existing methods of teacher evaluation and outlined their ineffectiveness. Hence, several frameworks and strategies for improved appraisal systems have been proposed and proclaimed as successfully implemented by HR in several organisations. However, contrary to these proclamations, it has been observed and reported that the appraisals scores and students’ evaluation ratings affect faculty in several ways. These tools of teacher evaluation create disaffection, insecurity, a sense of futility, powerlessness and disillusionment among teachers. Therefore, the purpose of this small-scale exploratory critical study is to problematise the faculty evaluation system and gauge the perception of faculty members about their appraisal and promotion systems in higher education in the Middle Eastern milieu and critically explore how these affect faculty’s perceptions of their professionalism and their motivation.  Another purpose of the study is to critically explore the faculty evaluation system which is presumably tied to their promotions in higher education institutions in a Gulf country and to create awareness concerning the issue.

Using the critical paradigmatic research design, the data is collected by means of interviews. The data analyses indicated that contrary to institutional policies and proclamations, preferentialism as a form of discrimination was exercised in these educational institutions by the managers and coordinators who had the power to recommend a faculty member’s contract renewal or promotion. Similarly, students also emerged as a powerful entity in the educational context and teachers, as holders of knowledge, were rendered powerless in the decisions concerning their future in the organisations. Consequently, it negatively affected employees’ perceptions of their professionalism and motivation. In an endeavour to avoid hopelessness and sterile silence (Freire, 1972) and to intertwine hope with action, the study makes a few recommendations to diminish organisational injustice, inequality and bias, and promote fairness and a just evaluation system that benefits all stakeholders, i.e. the students, the faculty and the administration.

5. ARAB LEARNER MOTIVATION AND VOCABULARY GAINS: TAMING THE TROJAN HORSE WITH TECH-TOOLS

As the basis of all communication, vocabulary is of paramount importance and retains a central role in teaching and learning a second language. Adequate vocabulary acquisition is considered crucial for the enhancement of all language skills. Similarly, the use and application of educational technology and digital linguistic resources have been lauded globally for the enhancement of second language skills in general and vocabulary enhancement in particular. The governments and the educational institutions in numerous countries around the world have largely invested in the provision of these resources and teacher training for the purpose. Despite the universal importance of vocabulary in learning English as a second language and provision of ample digital linguistic resources to aid the process, research has established a considerable lack of motivation related to learning vocabulary when it comes to Arab learners. Thus, the present study endeavours to establish the effectiveness of two digital applications (Kahoot and Quizziz) and how they contribute to augmented learner motivation related to vocabulary gains. Adopting the pre and post-test and observation checklists, quasi-experimental quantitative study approach, tertiary-level ESL Arab students of 3 intact classes were tested using task/activity-based, vocabulary-enhancing activities by means of the above-mentioned digital applications and results were compared. The results demonstrated a noticeable increase in learner vocabulary gains and motivation with the use of these applications. The results also indicated a significant difference between learners’ vocabulary scores comparing the no-application test scores and the scores when these applications were used. Moreover, Kahoot proved to be a better option for learner vocabulary gains as compared to Quizziz albeit the effectiveness and positive impact of both applications.

 

Supervisory Team

1. MA in TESOL Studies (Aston Unversity, Birmingham, UK) Thesis: 2 Supervised by:

  • Prof. Ann Burns. (School of Education at UNSW, Sydney, Australia).
  • Dr. Nur Kortuglu Hooton. (Lecturer, Director of Undergraduate Programmes and Lecturer in English Language Aston University, Birmingham, UK).
  • Dr. Sue Garton. (Associate Dean External Relations / Reader in Applied Linguistics. Aston University, Birmingham, UK).

2. MA English Language & Literature (Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi Pakistan) Thesis:1  Supervised by:

  • Prof. Dr. Saeeda Assadullah. (Vice Chancellor Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan).
  • Mrs. Shaheera Jaffer. (Lecturer Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan).

3. Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK).

  • Dr. Susan Riley. Module leader and Lecturer in TESOL​. (University of Exeter, UK)

4. Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK).

  • Dr. Salah Troudi. Associate Professor in TESOL Education. Programme Director TESOL/Dubai EdD. International Development Coordinator

5. Doctoral Research Paper Ed.D. in TESOL (University of Exeter, Exeter, UK).

  • Dr. Phillip Durrant. Senior Lecturer in Lamguage Education. Director of Doctoral Studies, University of Exeter. 

Wider Research Interests

My research interests include areas related to critical issues in ELT, teacher professional development, workplace/educational policies, professional identity and issues involving race, gender, and ethnicity with respect to the power and imperialism of English language around the world.