Conceptual understanding of mathematics among students – a comparative study between students of International Baccalaureate and national curriculum

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


Conceptual understanding of mathematics enables students to integrate mathematics across the discipline and within their surroundings. The current study aimed to investigate the existing differences in the conceptual understanding of the students studying through two different curricula, i.e. the National Curriculum (NC) and the International Baccalaureate (IB), and the factors affecting students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics. It is a mixed methods study carried out in two schools of Karachi, one of which was an IB world school and the other one was affiliated with Aga Khan University-Education Board (AKU-EB) which follows NC 2006. A total of 45 research participants participated in the study. Among those 45 participants, two were mathematics teachers and the remaining forty three were students from both the schools. Analysis of Quantitative tools, (a Mathematics achievement test and a demographic datasheet) showed that the students of IB performed relatively better then AKU-EB students and have positive relation between the extra support they receive and their academic achievement. Thematic analysis of the qualitative semi-structured interviews of teachers, focus group discussion with students, school and classroom environment observations, disclosed significant influences of assessment, pedagogical approach, curriculum content, school environment and home support on students’ conceptual understanding. The implications of the study emphasise upon the need of modification in assessment criteria, as well as the pedagogical approach of the teachers to enhance mathematics conceptual understanding among students. It further emphasises on introduction of cohesive curriculum content for mathematics. In future the study could be expand and could be used to generate more generalizable results.

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