The Yomiuri Shimbun April 26, 2013

A recent educational survey has shown university students prefer to take easy classes, despite efforts by universities to offer more challenging courses that encourage student debates and active participation.

About 4,900 students at national, public and private universities across the nation responded to the online survey conducted by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Center in November.

In the survey, 54.2 percent of respondents said they participated in classroom debates, up 7.5 percentage points from the previous survey in 2008. Additionally, 39.1 percent of students had classes involving firsthand activities and lab sessions, up 6.7 percentage points.

Meanwhile, 54.8 percent of those polled said they favor classes for which they can obtain easy credits, up 5.9 percentage points from the previous survey. Furthermore, 43.9 percent of respondents said they want classroom instruction on study tactics, up 4.6 percentage points from 2008.

The survey results, released Tuesday, suggest that university reforms aimed at promoting active learning have yielded few results. Although universities have introduced more interactive courses, students tend to be passive in their attitude toward learning.

“There’s a perception gap between universities and students,” said Kobe University Prof. Tatsuo Kawashima, who supervised the survey. “It’s essential to develop an education system that helps students get accustomed to a more active learning approach.”