A Qualitative Study on Teaching Visual Texts by Using Reciprocal Teaching Approach in a Virtual General English Course During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Original Article


Department of General Courses, School of Medicine, Birjand University of Medical Sciences, Birjand, Iran


Background: During the Covid-19 pandemic, teaching and learning have taken a detour, and the unexpected shift from faceto-face to virtual learning has made instructors and learners think about new methods for more effective virtual instruction. The present study aimed at examining a new method for enriching the medical students’ understanding of visual texts through applying Reciprocal Teaching (RT) strategies during the Covid-19 pandemic. Methods: The study had a qualitative action-research design. The participants of the study were 54 medical students enrolled in an online General English course at Birjand University of Medical Sciences during the Fall semester of 2020. The class was held twice a week for 24 sessions. The strategies of RT were integrated into watching films that were used as teaching materials (visual texts). The researcher used semi-structured interviews and field notes and also recorded the class sessions for data collection. The collected data were analyzed through thematic analysis. Results: The results showed that the students found using RT strategies advantageous in the understanding of films and in improving their language proficiency. They reconceptualized the importance of their film-watching habit, and revalued the importance of films for language learning, and considered them as textbooks that could be divided into different sections such as introduction, body, and conclusion. In addition, they discussed different sections of the films with peers and wrote summaries about them which improved both their language proficiency and their knowledge about medical terminologies. Conclusion: The findings of this study showed that applying RT strategies in virtual classes can be advantageous in helping medical students recognize the importance of films and use them as reliable sources for language learning. Therefore, as today’s students are called ‘digital natives’, it is suggested that the RT strategies and the new modes of instruction be integrated into teaching medical students.


Mishra L, Gupta T, Shree A. Online teaching-learning in higher education during lockdown period of Covid-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research Open. 2020;1: 100012. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100012.
Prensky M. Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon. 2001;5:1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816.
Dreyer C, Nel C. Teaching reading strategies and reading comprehension within a technology-enhanced learning environment. System. 2003;3:349–365. doi:10.1016/S0346-251X(03)00047-2.
Ahmadi MR, Ismail HN. Reciprocal teaching strategy as an important factor of improving reading comprehension. Journal of Studies in Education. 2012;2(4):153-173. doi: 10.5296/jse.v2i4.2584.
Palincsar AS, Brown AL. Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction. 1984;1(2):117–175.  doi:10.1207/s1532690xci01021.
Rosenshine B, Meister C. Reciprocal teaching: a review of the research. Review of Educational Research. 1994;64(4): 479-530. doi:10.2307/1170585.
Koda, K. Insights into second language reading: a cross-linguistic approach: Cambridge University Press; 2004.
Myers PA. The princess storyteller, Clara clarifier, Quincy questioner, and the wizard: Reciprocal teaching adapted for kindergarten students. The Reading Teacher. 2005; 59(4):314-324. doi: 10.1598/RT.59.4.2.
Werner W. Reading visual texts. theory and research in social education. 2002;30(3): 401-428. doi: 10.1080/00933104.2002.10473203.
Arnold J. Affect in language learning. Cambridge University Press; 1999.
Kasper, LF. Film imagery: a visual resource for clarifying content and developing academic writing skill. In: Kasper LF, editors. Content-based college ESL instruction: Lawrence Erlbaum; 2000.
Hobbs R. A review of school-based initiatives in media literacy education. American Behavioral Scientist. 2004;48(1): 42-59. doi:10.1177/0002764204267250.
Ausburn LJ, Ausburn FB. Visual literacy: background, theory and practice.  Programmed Learning and Educational Technology. 1978;15(4):291-297. doi:10.1080/0033039780150405.
Hekmati N, Ghahremani Ghajar S, Navidinia H. Movie-generated EFL writing: discovering the act of writing through visual literacy practices. International Journal of Language Studies. 2018;12(2):51-64.
Farazkish M, Montazer GA. E-learning readiness among faculty members of Iranian universities: a survey of 23 universities. Interdiscip J Virtual Learn Med Sci. 2019;10(4):54-64. doi:10.30476/ijvlms.2019.84302.1003.
Hosseini MS. The effect of online interpretations via interactive white boards on vocabulary learning. Interdiscip J Virtual Learn Med Sci. 2020;11(1):37-45. doi: 10.30476/ijvlms.2020.84307.1002.
Ghorbani AT, Zarifsanaiey N, Negahban MB. Comparing the impacts of e-learning and conventional education on students’ academic motivation and performance: a descriptive Study. Interdiscip J Virtual Learn Med Sci. 2020;11(3):170-179. doi: 10.30476/ijvlms.2020.86756.1039.
Malekipour A. Effectiveness of e-curriculum in social networks during the Covid-19 pandemic: parents’, teachers’ and students’ perspectives. Interdiscip J Virtual Learn Med Sci. 2020;11(4):207-214. doi: 10.30476/IJVLMS.2020.47098.