A cross cultural comparative study of teaching behavior in the United States and Pakistan

Jamila Arain


The purpose of conducting this research was to help teachers and other educators in the United States and in Pakistan directly concerned with the teaching-learning process to understand more fully and to improve the role of the teacher in the classroom. Conditions in Pakistani and American schools were described in order to understand and improve teaching behavior. This research attempted to answer the question, "Do teachers in Pakistan exhibit more direct teaching behavior than teachers in the United States as shown by the Flanders System of Interaction Analysis?" In the 1960's Flanders introduced his system of interaction analysis in which all teacher statements were classified as either direct or indirect. The system was concerned with verbal behavior only, because it can be observed with higher reliability than can non-verbal behavior. Direct Teaching Behavior was defined as high frequency in the amount of lecturing, giving directions, criticizing or justifying authority that a teacher uses. Indirect Teaching Behavior was defined as high frequency in the amount of praise or encouragement, acceptance of students' feelings, acceptance or use of students' ideas, or the asking of questions that a teacher uses. Using the Flanders System this study was conducted with five American elementary teachers from the New City Elementary School, New City, New York and five Pakistani elementary teachers from the Aisha Bawany School, Karachi, Pakistan. Teaching behavior was observed by the writer in both cultures and the observations were recorded. Tabulations were made and the data was compiled in a matrix. Each teacher had an individual matrix showing l/D ratio, teacher talk and student talk in the classroom. The results were presented in four tables showing the comparative ratios of both groups of teachers. Major conclusions of the study showed that the elementary teachers in Pakistan were all direct in their teaching behavior. In Pakistan, students were seen as submissive and under strict supervision. In the United States, however, four of the American teachers exhibited indirect teaching behavior and one teacher exhibited direct teaching behavior. These results were sharply contrasted. Possible reasons cited for the variations in teaching behavior were cultural differences in childrearing practices, different sociocultural attitudes, the diversity of language patterns in Pakistan and inefficient training of Pakistani teachers. Cross cultural studies of this type are few. It is always beneficial to compare educational systems so as to improve the nature and quality of education worldwide. Further research should be conducted in Pakistan in the area of teacher effectiveness and teacher training. A pilot study could be conducted in one of the schools using innovative techniques and teaching styles from the United States, for example, to see the differences in achievement. This would be contrasted to the more traditional way of teaching that is presently in effect in Pakistan.