Todai to introduce graduate seminar on teaching methods

April 4, 2013

The Japan News [The Yomiuri Shimbun]

The University of Tokyo will introduce this academic year a seminar on teaching methods for graduate students who want to become university lecturers.

The university judged lecturers should have teaching abilities in addition to research skills, a demand that is growing among other similar institutions.

In the program, students will learn how to create teaching plans and conduct lectures focused on student participation, including the incorporation of discussions and group presentations. The three-hour seminar will be held eight times a semester, and about 100 students will participate in the program this academic year. Students who complete the course will receive certificates they can use when applying for positions as university lecturers.

As of May 2012, there were about 6,000 doctoral students at the University of Tokyo. Each year, it is estimated that about 200 students become lecturers at universities across the nation. Kayoko Kurita, a special associate professor in charge of the program, said, “Lecturers formerly concentrated solely on their research, but now they must also possess teaching skills.”

When universities hire lecturers, they focus on candidates’ research performance such as academic papers and conference presentations. However, an increasing number of university students are exhibiting a lack of motivation for learning, including those at the University of Tokyo. Therefore, many schools are now requiring candidates to submit teaching plans or give demonstration lectures as part of the selection process.

Additionally, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has urged universities to improve lecturers’ teaching abilities and the quality of lectures. Kyoto, Tohoku and other universities have already implemented a similar program.


Other news on education in Japan:

Tokyo to introduce ‘challenge’ levels for high schools

March 31, 2013 Daily Yomiuri:
The Tokyo metropolitan board of education has decided to introduce a new system that requires high schools to set academic goals for each subject according to three achievement levels. The education board plans to introduce the system to 32 high schools in April, and expand it to other high schools from the 2014 academic year, except for certain top-tier schools and integrated middle and senior high schools. It will be the first time for a prefectural-level board of education to set academic ability goals targeting individual schools … Read more here


2012 saw an 80% spike in EIKEN primary school student test-takers


Earlier news:

Abe wants TOEFL to be key exam Japan Times, MAR 25, 2013

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not satisfied with just revising monetary policy to spark the weak economy. He also appears bent on reviving another failing field — the public’s ability to speak English.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on education will propose using TOEFL scores as criteria for entering and graduating from
universities, reports said Monday.

Although the idea is still in its early stages, it is hoped the effort will help transform the way foreign languages are taught in the country, where English ability is considered subpar.

“It could have an impact on improving the level of English among Japanese in the long run,” Manabu Horiuchi of TOFL Seminar in Osaka told The Japan Times on Monday. The school specializes in teaching preparatory classes for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other language tests.

“If the level of each student improves, the country’s skills should go up as well,” he said.” … end of extract

Related:  Use of TOEFL eyed in Japan’s education reform

The first proposal from the Liberal Democratic Party’s education panel includes establishing “advanced Super Science High Schools (SSHs)”. -Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN

Sat, Mar 23, 2013
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

JAPAN – The first proposal from the Liberal Democratic Party’s education panel includes establishing “advanced Super Science High Schools (SSHs)” and having universities require applicants to achieve a certain score on the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), it has been learned.

Advanced SSHs are institutions where university professors specialising in mathematics and science instruct motivated students of high scholastic standing.

The party’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education, chaired by Toshiaki Endo, will make an official decision on the proposal this month. The goal of the proposal is to implement educational reforms to nurture human resources who can actively contribute to the international community.

The LDP plans to include the proposal in its pledge for the House of Councillors election campaign this summer and is considering preparing legislation to realise it.

The proposal recommends a three-pronged approach for revitalizing the education system: drastic reform of English education, improved science and mathematics, and development of information and communication technology education. The proposal requests about 1 trillion yen (S$13 billion) to pursue these three strategies.

Specifically, the proposal advocates doubling the number of doctorate degree holders in the fields of science and mathematics to 35,000 a year, on par with the United States. For this, the establishment of advanced SSHs within seven to 10 universities is proposed across the nation.

The plan also recommends increasing the number of SSHs from the current figure of about 180 and placing science teachers in primary schools to interest more students in the subject.

Regarding English education reform, it proposes all public and private universities designate minimum TOEFL scores for each faculty and stipulate only applicants who achieve or surpass those score may take entrance examinations. The minimum scores would be set independently by each university. TOEFL is used to assess English proficiency and is often used as a screening tool for students who wish to study abroad.

In terms of the developing information and communication technology education, the proposal clearly includes the provision of tablet computers as teaching aids to each student at all primary, middle, high and special-needs schools before 2020.


– End of news brief run-down –


Aileen Kawagoe