This study aims to understand the meaning of having a bachelor's degree, by clarifying the expected essential learning outcomes to be gained in general education and liberal education by students through a baccalaureate program in the United States. The general expected abilities of baccalaureate holders in Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and the OECD are discussed first. The expected abilities of baccalaureate holders in the United States are then examined in detail. The author argues that there are assessable learning outcomes and un-assessable outcomes and that the latter consist of 'negative capability,' which liberates a person from narrow-minded thinking and lets the person find hidden truths of the universe, society and human beings, and 'positive capability,' which allows a person to integrate what he or she has learned and gives the person the power to cope with difficulties associated with the universe, society and human beings. The author concludes that a bachelor's degree should be a genuine certification of one's capabilities and a mark of integrity. The author also argues that 'developmental education' of universities and colleges should support the development of the capabilities of students.
This article first reviews the historical process of how the first universities,i.e., the Universities of Bologna and Paris, arose, and then overviews and compares the current higher education reforms which are being implemented in Japan and Europe. Through this, the author draws the following conclusion: the essence of the first universities established in Medieval Europe was their universality, achieved mainly through the universal influence of their knowledge and the mobility of academics and students. The reform of higher education currently being implemented in Europe, called the "Bologna Process," apparently has this universality as its basic philosophy. In contrast, the reforms being implemented in Japanese higher education seem to lack a historical standpoint and make light of the universality which we should expect of our universities.
Can-do research has been attracting the attention of researchers and practitioners with the potential of can-do lists to evaluate learners' English abilities in a more comprehensive manner than test scores. As a preliminary stage to developing an original can-do list that is applicable to lower-level English learners, we investigated the relationship between TOEIC Bridge IP scores and learners' ratings based on an EIKEN can-do list, and we found that there were positive correlations between the two. The improvement of the TOEIC Bridge scores, however, did not correlate with the improvement of the learners' confidence regarding can-do list items.
To raise the academic level of a university, letting students exercise their independence and letting them study interactively among themselves are both effective and efficient. Learners often encounter incomprehensible concepts or contexts in their classes. However, by working with other students as a group and using learning facilities on campus, students are more likely to have real experiences in "understanding, being able to do, enjoying and linking up" subjects which they had previously only learned through books. The more students can have authentic, active learning experiences, the more they can become accustomed to linked learning by themselves or with others. As a consequence of nurturing students' independence of spirit and cooperativeness, their motivation to learn and academic ability are both enhanced. In addition, since tutors assist each student individually, differences in the academic abilities of students can be dealt with flexibly. Accordingly we designed and established a firm collaborative learning system between classes and the Mathematical Science Learning Center (MSLC), in which student tutors support learning, acting mainly on their own initiative. It is an efficient utilization of human resources at the university. In this paper, we examine the effects of this system using the MSLC, which was established at Meio University in 2009 for the purposes of developing academic ability in science and of creating a favorable environment for learning.
This study investigates whether differences in learning strategies affect shadowing performance. Prior studies suggest that shadowing takes up so much attention that some learners need a way to scaffold self-monitoring in order to facilitate shadowing. Therefore, this study sets three conditions and compares their ability to improve shadowing performance. Thirty-five Japanese university students were divided into the following three groups, which were subjected to different conditions: a self-study group (N=12), wherein learners listened to their shadowed voice to check their progress; a pair work group (N=12), wherein learners received feedback from a peer; and a control group (N=11), wherein learners received no feedback on their shadowing performance and participated in a 60-minute shadowing training session. A pre- and post-test analysis revealed that the self-study group outperformed the other two groups. However, the analysis also revealed that in all three conditions, the production of function words failed to meet that of content words.
In 2009, the author's research team investigated 3587 college students from 13 universities and stated that one of the major factors which differentiated the upper from the middle and lower percentile groups was the use of cognitive strategies and that the higher the English proficiency of the students became, the more the number of their intrinsic values became. This year, using the same data, the author investigated the cause and the effect between their use of cognitive strategy and their intrinsic values among Japanese college students. According to the major results, in the best students, four of the questionnaire items on intrinsic value were the causes of their cognitive strategic use, in the middle students group, two items on intrinsic value were the causes and in the poor performers, only one item of intrinsic value was the cause. After analyzing the data, some educational implications that English education in Japan should make a paradigm shift to English education based on action-oriented language learning view are discussed.
This paper reports on students' reading problems, with concrete examples taken from six classes in four higher education institutions. Although the examples were selected from writing classes, many students in the classes had problems in reading, even prior to writing. The problems can be largely divided into four issues: 1) inability to distinguish between a fact and an opinion of the author, 2) inability to comprehend words and read structurally, 3) lack of knowledge about basic literary structures (e.g., a paragraph), and 4) inability to correctly interpret function words. As a solution for these issues, I propose an intensive study of function words and sentence patterns. In my opinion, it is effective to help students in distinguishing between facts and opinions and recognizing the structure of a composition.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the possibilities of the use of authentic materials in English remedial classes at a Japanese university. Possibilities and effects are elucidated by the results of vocabulary tests, a questionnaire, and students' attitudes toward the class. In vocabulary tests, students scored much better than classes in which authentic materials are not used. The questionnaire and students' behavior also revealed that using authentic materials for students who require remedial education is effective. As a result, though it might be thought that authentic materials are too difficult for students in remedial classes, it is possible and effective to teach English using authentic materials if they are used by adapting the content of materials and incorporating the students' interest into them.