Nature of Conceptions of Learning in a Collectivistic Society: A Qualitative Case Study of Pakistan
More details
Hide details
Department of Education, Bahawalnagar Campus, Bahawalnagar, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, PAKISTAN
Department of Education, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, PAKISTAN
Department of Education, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, PAKISTAN
Department of Educational Training, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur PAKISTAN
Department of Educational Foundation and Social Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Johor, MALAYSIA
Online publish date: 2018-01-05
Publish date: 2018-01-05
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2018;14(4):1175–1187
Conceptions of learning determine students’ ways to learn, motivations and expectations in schools. Conceptions have potential to understand and mold their learning behaviors at schools. Certain types of conceptions of learning appear obvious feature of students performing poorly in schools. Literature suggests that students’ conceptions of learning are affected by students’ social and cultural backgrounds. Students in underdeveloped, minority and Asian social and cultures have quite different conceptions than the students in developed countries. In Pakistani public school, most students are from the lower socio-economic background. Available literature reports drill, memorization, and external regulation of learning and lack of adequate motivation to learn in students of these schools, which signpost undesired conceptions of learning. The current study deals with the students studying in Pakistani schools to determine and understand their conception of learning. A qualitative data collection approach was used to collect the data from the respondents. An approach of applied thematic analysis used reduced qualitative data into themes, sub-themes and into sub-sub-themes. The thematic analysis corroborated Pakistani secondary school science students’ intake of knowledge and cooperation conceptions of learning. The findings were in line to various studies on Asian students. The high failing rate at secondary school level in science education in Pakistani schools is congruent to presence of intake of knowledge and cooperation conceptions of learning.
1. Aijaz, S. M. (2001). Learning Achievement in Primary Schools of Pakistan: A Quest for Quality Education. Retrieved from
2. Akhtar, M. (2007). A comparative study of student attitude, learning and teaching practices in Pakistan and Britain. Educational Studies, 33(3), 267-283. doi:10.1080/03055690701423069.
3. Alamdarloo, G., Hemati , Moradi, S., & Dehshiri, G. R. (2013). The Relationship between Students’ Conceptions of Learning and Their Academic Achievement. Psychology, 4(1), 44-49. doi:10.4236/psych.2013.41006.
4. Bahawalpur, B. (2015). Result Gazette Secondary School Certificate (Annual) Examination 2015. Retrieved from
5. Bibi, R. (2012). Effect of Pq4r Study Strategy on Scholastic Achievement of Secondary School Students in Punjab (Pakistan) (Ph.D. Thesis). Foundation University, Islamabad. Retrieved from Pakistan Research Repository database.
6. Biggs, J. (1998). Learning from the Confucian heritage: so size doesn’t matter? International Journal of Educational Research, 29(8), 723-738. doi:10.1016/S0883-0355(98)00060-3.
7. Blair, E. (2015). A reflexive exploration of two qualitative data coding techniques. Journal of Methods and Measurement in the Social Sciences, 6(1), 14-29. doi:10.2458/v6i1.18772.
8. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.
9. Choi, J. (2016). Understanding Students’ Beliefs About Knowledge and Learning in a Sociocultural Context: The Case of Korean Middle School Students. In R. B. King & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.), The Psychology of Asian Learners: A Festschrift in Honor of David Watkins. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media.
10. Crawford, K., Gordon, S., Nicholas, J., & Prosser, M. (1998). Qualitatively different experiences of learning mathematics at university. Learning and Instruction, 8(5), 455-468. doi:10.1016/S0959-4752(98)00005-X.
11. Creswell, J., W. . (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (P. A. Smith Ed. 4 ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
12. Duarte, A. (2007). Conceptions of learning and approaches to learning in Portuguese students. Higher Education, 54(6), 781-794. doi:10.1007/s10734-006-9023-7.
13. Edmunds, R., & Richardson, J. T. E. (2009). Conceptions of learning, approaches to studying and personal development in UK higher education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(2), 295-309. doi:10.1348/000709908x368866.
14. Ely, M. (1991). Doing Qualitative Research: Circles Within Circles/Margot Ely with Margaret Anzul, Teri Friedman, Diane Garner, Ann McCormack Steinmetz. Philadelphia: The Falmer Press, Taylor & Francis Inc.
15. Guest, G., MacQueen, K. M., & Namey, E. E. (2012). Data Reduction Techniques. Applied Thematic Analysis (pp. 129-160). California: Sage Publications, Inc.
16. Hasan, S. S. (2011). Study of Psychological Determinants of High and Low Academic Achievers. (Ph.D. Thesis), University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Retrieved from
17. Ho, E., Sui-chu. (2012). Student Learning Assessment. Hong Kong: UNESCO, Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Thailand.
18. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). I, We, and They Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind: Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival (Revised and extended third edition ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
19. Howitt, D., & Cramer, D. (2008). Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology (2nd ed.). England: Pearson Education Limited.
20. Javadi, M., & Zarea, K. (2016). Understanding Thematic Analysis and its Pitfall. Journal of Client Care, 1(1), 34-40. doi:10.15412/J.JCC.02010107.
21. Kember, D. (1996). The intention to both memorise and understand: Another approach to learning? Higher Education, 31(3), 341-354. doi:10.1007/bf00128436.
22. Kember, D. (2000). Misconceptions about the learning approaches, motivation and study practices of Asian students. Higher Education, 40(1), 99-121. doi:10.1023/a:1004036826490.
23. Kember, D. (2001). Beliefs about Knowledge and the Process of Teaching and Learning as a Factor in Adjusting to Study in Higher Education. Studies in Higher Education, 26(2), 205-221. doi:10.1080/03075070120052116.
24. Kember, D. (2016). Understanding and Teaching the Chinese Learner: Resolving the Paradox of the Chinese Learner. In R. B. King & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.), The Psychology of Asian Learners: A Festschrift in Honor of David Watkins. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media.
25. Kember, D., & Gow, L. Y. N. (1990). Cultural Specificity of Approaches to Study British Journal of Educational Psychology, 60(3), 356-363. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8279.1990.tb00952.x.
26. Kember, D., & Gow, L. Y. N. (1991). A challenge to the anecdotal stereotype of the Asian student. Studies in Higher Education, 16(2), 117. doi:10.1080/03075079112331382934.
27. Khan, A. S. (2011). Existing Level of Understanding of Concepts on the Subject of Chemistry Among Class IX Students and Effect of Teaching Chemistry Through 'Concept Formation Teaching Model' on Student's Achievements (Ph.D. Thesis), International Islamic University, Islamabad. Retrieved from Pakistan Research Repository database.
28. Khan, M. J., Arif, H., Noor, S. S., & Muneer, S. (2014). Academic Procrastination Among Male and Female University and College Students. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, 8(2), 65-70. Retrieved from,Winter%202014%20Vol.8,No.2/9.%20Academic%20Procrastination%20among%20.pdf.
29. Khilji, A. J., & Bhutta, S. M. (2012). Lower Secondary School Students Science Achievements Accross Gender: A Study From a Rural Area of Pakistan. International Researcher, 1(3), 117-127. Retrieved from
30. King, R. B., & McInerney, D. M. (2016). Examining the Links Between Social Goals and Learning Strategies. In R. B. King & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.), The Psychology of Asian Learners: A Festschrift in Honor of David Watkins. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-981-287-576-1_25.
31. Liem, G. A. D. (2016). The Effects of Culture and Sex on Students’ Approaches to Learning: Inspiring Insights from David Watkins’ Intellectual Inquiries. In R. B. King & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.), The Psychology of Asian Learners: A Festschrift in Honor of David Watkins. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media.
32. Luo, W., & Yeung, A. S. (2016). Self-Construal, Incremental Beliefs of Ability, and Learning Preferences of Singapore Students. In R. B. King & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.), The Psychology of Asian Learners: A Festschrift in Honor of David Watkins. Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media.
33. Malik, A. H. (2012). A Comparative Study of Elite-English-Medium Schools, Public Schools, and Islamic Madaris in Contemporary Pakistan: The Use of Pierre Bourdieu's Theory to Understand "Inequalities in Educational and Occupational Opportunities (Ph.D. Thesis), University of Toronto, Canada. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text database. (NR97041).
34. Malik, I. H. (1997). State and civil society in Pakistan : politics of authority, ideology, and ethnicity In P. Alex (Ed.), St. Antony's series. London: Macmillan Press, Ltd. doi:10.1057/9780230376298.
35. Marton, F., Dall’Alba, G., & Beaty, E. (1993). Conceptions of learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 19(3), 277-300. doi:10.1016/0883-0355(93)90015-C.
36. Minasian-Batmanian, L. C., Lingard, J., & Prosser, M. (2006). Variation in Student Reflections on their Conceptions of and Approaches to Learning Biochemistry in a First‐year Health Sciences’ Service Subject. International Journal of Science Education, 28(15), 1887-1904. doi:10.1080/09500690600621274.
37. Muhamad, I. M. S., & Ong, E. T. d. S. B. (2011). Self-Regulated Learning: Gender Differences in Motivation and Learning Strategies Amongst Malaysian Science Students. Jurnal Pendidikan Bitara UPSI, 4. Retrieved from
38. Pell, A. W., Iqbal, H. M., & Sohail, S. (2010). Introducing science experiments to rote-learning classes in Pakistani middle schools. Evaluation & Research in Education, 23(3), 191-212. doi:10.1080/09500790.2010.489151.
39. Pillay, H., Purdie, N., & Boulton-Lewis, G. (2000). Investigating Cross-Cultural Variation in Conceptions of Learning and the Use of Self-Regulated Strategies. Education Journal, 28(1), 65-84. Retrieved from
40. Prosser, M., & Trigwell, K. (1999). Students' Approaches to Learning Understanding Learning and Teaching : The Experience in Higher Education (pp. 83-107). Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
41. Punjab Development Statistics. (2014). Retrieved from Bureau of Statistics, Government of the Punjab, Lahore. Retrieved from
42. Purdie, N., Hattie, J., & Douglas, G. (1996). Student Conceptions of Learning and Their Use of Self-Regulated Learning Strategies: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(1), 87-100. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.88.1.87.
43. Richardson, J. T. E. (2007). Mental models of learning in distance education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(2), 253-270. doi:10.1348/000709906x110557.
44. Richardson, J. T. E. (2010). Conceptions of learning and approaches to studying among white and ethnic minority students in distance education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 535-556. doi:10.1348/000709910x489283.
45. Rosário, P., Núñez, J. C., Azevedo, R., Cunha, J., Pereira, A., & Mourão, R. (2014). Understanding gypsy children’s conceptions of learning: A phenomenographic study. School Psychology International, 35(2), 152-166 doi:10.1177/0143034312469304.
46. Rothstein-Fisch, C., Greenfield, P. M., Trumbull, E., Keller, H., & Quiroz, B. (2010). Uncovering the Role of Culture in Learning, Development, and Education. In D. D. Preiss & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), Innovations in Educational Psychology Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development (pp. 269-294). New York: Springer Publishing Company.
47. Rugh, A. B. (2012). The Pakistan Case: USAID Support for Primary Education (1987–1994) International development in practice: education assistance in Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (pp. 73-122). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
48. Säljo, R. (1979). Learning in the Learner's Perspective: Some Common-sense Conceptions. Retrieved from
49. Shah, Z. A. (2011). Analysis of Cognitive Demands of The Concepts Taught in General Science at 8th Grade, Piagetian Developmental Levels of Students and Their Attitude Towards Learning of Science. (Ph.D. Thesis), University of The Punjab, Lahore. Retrieved from Pakistan Research Repository database.
50. Shaheen, R. (2010). An investigation into the factors enhancing or inhibiting primary school children’s creativity in Pakistan (Ph.D. Thesis). University of Birmingham, Birmingham. Retrieved from
51. Teoh, H. C., Maria, C. A., Samsilah, R., & Shaffe, D. (2013). An Investigation of Student Engagement in a Malaysian Public University. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 90, 142-151. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.07.075.
52. Ullah, R., Richardson, J. T. E., & Hafeez, M. (2013). Variations in perceptions of the learning environment and approaches to studying among university students in Pakistan. PROSPECTS, 43(2), 165-186. doi:10.1007/s11125-013-9264-z.
53. Vermetten, Y. J., Vermunt, J. D., & Lodewijks, H. G. (2002). Powerful learning environments? How university students differ in their response to instructional measures. Learning and Instruction, 12(3), 263-284. doi:10.1016/S0959-4752(01)00013-5.
54. Vermunt, J. D. (1987). Learning Styles and Self-Regulation. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association Washington. Retrieved from
55. Vermunt, J. D. (1996). Metacognitive, Cognitive and Affective Aspects of Learning Styles and Strategies: A Phenomenographic Analysis. Higher Education, 31(1), 25-50. doi:10.1007/bf00129106.
56. Vermunt, J. D. (2005). Relations Between Student Learning Patterns and Personal and Contextual Factors and Academic performance. Higher Education, 49(3), 205-234. doi:10.1007/sl0734-004-6664-2.
57. Vermunt, J. D., & Vermetten, Y. (2004). Patterns in Student Learning: Relationships Between Learning Strategies, Conceptions of Learning, and Learning Orientations. Educational Psychology Review, 16(4), 359-384. doi:10.1007/s10648-004-0005-y.
58. Voronov, M., & Singer, J. A. (2002). The myth of individualism collectivism: A critical review. Journal of Social Psychology, 142(4), 461-480. Retrieved from
59. Watters, D. J., & Watters, J. J. (2007). Approaches to Learning by Students in the Biological Sciences: Implications for teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 29(1), 19-43. doi:10.1080/09500690600621282.
60. Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 64-70. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4102_2.