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Part2 Educational Reform Q&A
Q32: Japanese students are said to spend all their time doing part-time jobs and enjoying themselves and do not study seriously even though they are attending university.How are universities addressing this situation?

A:Universities are seeking to enhance andimprove educational content and methodsand are working to run classes that attractthe interests and concerns of students.Theyare also promoting a variety of measures toensure that students graduate from uni-ver-sity having acquired sufficient added valueby implementing more adequate courseguidance and rigorous assessment of aca-demic achievement.

Promoting of Provision of Information onUniversities

Each university is providing information that will contribute to the selection of career paths,such as information about the content of educa-tion and research.It is also desirable for students themselves to be aware of their objectives in going to university and to select the appropriate university,as well as to endeavor to study inde-pendently after entering university.

Enhancement and Improvement of LessonMethods.Etc

Each university is promoting the enhancement of educational content through such measures as improving the organization of the curriculum and the introduction of distinctive courses.Fur-ther,universities are working to provide a vari-ety of original and innovative designs to im-prove the quality of teaching,such as the prepa-ration and publication of syllabuses,expansion of small group education,use of diverse forms of media and classes that take into account what was learnt at upper secondary school.In future,responsible lesson planning will be promoted that involves the provision of appro-priate instruction for students on areas such as preparatory work in advance of classes,revision after classes and submission of reports rather than simply entrusting class study to the stu-dents' own efforts.

Faculty Development

Universities are implementing systematic faculty development,such as research and training on educational content and methods,in order to ensure that teaching staff endeavor to improve their own teaching ability and develop classes that arouse students' desire to learn.

Rigorous Assessment of Academic Achievement

Rigorous assessment of academic achievement is being introduced with the basis for assessment being made clear to students in advance.The basis for assessment is established in accordance with the objectives of each subject and takes into account not only the end-of-term examinations,but also the efforts and results of students in daily classes,including class attendance,respon-se to homework,submission of reports and other work.

Establishment of a Ceiling for the Number ofObtainable Credits

Some students register for too many subjects and earn easy credits because the lectures do not require preparation,there are no checks on at-tendance at classes and accreditation is based purely on the results of the end-of-term exami-nations.Therefore,universities are establishing an upper limit on the number of credits for reg-istered subjects in one year or one term.

Enhancement of the Learning Environment

Universities are promoting the enhancement of the learning environment to facilitate adequate independent study by students,including in the usage of facilities and equipment,for example the maintenance of sufficient numbers of library chairs and copies of necessary texts,and the opening hours/days of libraries and loan periods for books.

Self-Monitoring,Self-Evaluation and Third-Party Evaluation

After making their educational activities pubic,universities engage in self-monitoring and self-evaluation,implementing assessment of classes by students,conducting inspections by external assessors including people from industry,and put the results to work in the improvement of the quality of university education.

Has there really been a decrease in academic ability?

-A university student asks the Ministry of Education,Science,Sports and Culture(MESSC)-

Student:Recently,the declining academic ability of students is constantly being dis-eussed in newspapers and on television.What is going on?MESSC:There are two aspects to academic ability being discussed here.The first is the indication that the average academic ability of today's university students on the whole has declined compared to the past.The second is that today's university students have less de-sire,interest,motivation and preparation for studying than in the past.These issues are even prevalent among students of the so-called elite universities.Student:Are there any differences in these two types of decline in academic ability?MESSC:The first type is probably represent-ed by the decline in the average level of aca-demic ability on the whole,which has been unavoidable due to current rates of students progressing to university approaching50%,compared to around1955when only10%went on to university.In other words,as op-posed to the age in which only a certain sec-tion of people were able to go to university,nowadays far more people who want to go to university are able to.We do,however,con-sider the second type to be a problem.Student:So what kind of measures do you think are needed to deal with this situation?MESSC:First,we need to provide an educa-tion that motivates students to think about what they want to study at university.How many students are actually interested in the lectures?We doubt that the number is any-thing to boast about.Students need to go to university with a desire to study something.In addition,the university must also con-stantly review educational content and teaching methods to attract the maximum interest,concern and desire from students and provide responsible education.Student:Is there anything else we can do?MESSC:There is one more thing.We must stop education that involves cramming only for exams.Cramming means that you forget quickly.Studying purely because there is an exam means that you do not understand why you are studying and you do not fully absorb what you are studying.We need to promote more comfortable education that encourages people to learn.Student:I heard that the recent revision of Courses of Study reduced educational content at elementary and lower secondary schools by30%,as well as the number of minimum re-quired credits at upper secondary school.Won'tthis lead to a decline in academic ability?MESSC:Certainly,the amount of knowledge that all students study in common will de-crease.However,to ensure that students learn the basic knowledge and skills,we will be able to improve the quality of academic ability in the form of a"zest for living"by ensuring that students acquire intellectual curiosity and a spirit of inquiry.Further,we are increasing the scope of elective subjects at lower and upper secondary schools beyond that available in the past,thereby enabling students to study comprehensive and advanced subjects in which they have an interest.Student:I get it now.I myself did not re-ceive a comfortable education,but studying at the kind of school you are describing probably does inspire the desire to learn.I hope you will continue to promote education that will foster children's desire to learn.

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