The present study examined differences in the relation between prior and subsequent achievement that have been attributed to class size. The participants were second graders. Sample schools (N=48) were selected in 2 steps: (a) sampling from public elementary schools throughout Japan, including more than 1 single second-grade class with varying probabilities, and (b) excluding schools that introduced small-group instruction in their Japanese language classes. The pupils took Japanese language achievement tests twice: in July as prior achievement, and in December as subsequent achievement. A hierarchical linear model that predicts individual pupils’ subsequent achievement from their prior achievement and class size was analyzed. The results suggested that the change in achievement scores of the pupils in small classes was higher compared to pupils whose prior achievement was at an average level.
The present study examined how collaborative learning in a whole class may facilitate individuals’ explanation construction, and the relationship of explanation construction and individuals’ conceptual understanding. Eleventh graders (2 classes; total N=66) solved mathematical problems about the relation between numerical sequences and functions in 3 stages: pre-test, during the lesson (2 conditions: collaborative learning and teacher’s explanations of the answers), and post-test. The results indicated that perceiving inconsistencies in their own ideas and creating their own ideas consistently facilitated individuals’ explanation construction when elaborating their own ideas encouraged by others, which in turn led to individuals’ conceptual understanding. These results suggest that, particularly in relation to whole-class collaborative learning, (a) producing new ideas by linking students’ own ideas and information extracted from others’ explanations along their point of view may facilitate deeper understanding, (b) mutual explanations between students may encourage other students who are listening to the explanations to make their own ideas consistent, and (c) teachers’ support appears to be necessary for effective learning, perhaps because the amount of class time is limited.
The present research examined the process by which classroom social goal structures (prosocial and compliance goal structures) are related to the academic motivations of elementary school children. In Study 1, a Classroom Social Goal Structure Scale was developed, and its reliability and validity tested. Participants were elementary school 5th and 6th graders (N=289). The scale was found to be internally consistent, and it showed a moderate to high correlation with other classroom environment scales. Study 2 examined whether classroom social goal structures were related to academic motivations (intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy) mediated by academic-related peer interactions (i.e., peer learning). Participants were elementary school 5th and 6th graders (N=3,609) from 117 classrooms in 23 schools. The data were analyzed by multilevel structure equation modeling (MLSEM) at both student and classroom levels. At both levels, prosocial goal structure was found to be related to academic motivations, mediated by peer learning. Compliance goal structure was shown to have a small but significant mediational effect, but only at the student level. The discussion dealt with educational implications of the results.
The term zainichi is generally used to refer to Koreans who settled in Japan when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule and also to their descendants now living in Japan. The present study examined psychological problems faced by zainichi (Korean) young adults in their interpersonal relationships in Japan. Episodic interviews were conducted with 14 zainichi (7 men, 7 women; ages 19 to 27). The data were then analyzed using a grounded theory approach, which generated category interrelationship diagrams of “experience of interpersonal relations with Japanese” and “experience of interpersonal relations with other zainichi”. The zainichi participating in the study assumed that their partners, both Japanese and other zainichi, negatively perceived the zainichi’s ethnic origins and considered this difference to be undesirable. This, they felt, led them to experience anxiety that this difference would worsen their relationships and negatively influence their partner’s perception of them; that, in turn, contributed further to their sense of alienation and inferiority. However, at the same time, the participants reported experiencing contradictory emotions such as, “I’d want my partner to know that I am a zainichi”, which made them feel conflicted. This conflict in their interpersonal relations appeared to be one of their core psychological problems.
The present study used a theoretical framework in which the function of the school is as an anchor point (Koizumi, 2000; in Japanese) from which a partnership among family, school, and community is promoted, and in which teachers’ anchor point activities are defined as an active role in providing opportunities for children to relate to others in their community. The purposes of the present study were to develop a scale to assess teachers’ anchor point activities, to investigate the factor structure of the scale, and to identify relevant variables. Elementary school teachers (N=236) completed a self-rating questionnaire that included questions about their anchor point activities, their trust in the parents of their students and their neighborhood, and whether or not the area where their school was located was their hometown. Factor analysis yielded 3 factors of teachers’ anchor point activities: encouraging children to make friends, uniting children with the neighborhood, and supporting children’s safe lives. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that the degree of teachers’ sense of trust in the parents of their students or the neighborhood positively and significantly predicted the teachers’ anchor point activities; these relations were moderated by the teachers’ age or the historical relationship between the teachers and their school area (e.g., whether the teachers originally came from that area). The findings were discussed in terms of situations in which teachers’ anchor point activities were enhanced.
The present study investigated relationships between the frequency of referrals of student problems for guidance and counseling, the severity of cell phone regulations at high schools, and high school students’ reported dependence on their cell phones. Approximately 500 teachers and 1,700 students at 13 high schools completed questionnaires. The results suggested that cell phones were viewed by the students as being important. The tendency for high school students to report dependence on their cell phones was higher at high schools where there was a higher frequency of referrals of student problems for guidance and counseling. At high school with few such referrals, the students’ reported dependence on their cell phones varied with the strength of the schools’ regulations relating to cell phones. Specifically, the results suggested that students at high schools with a low occurrence of problems referred for guidance and counseling and strong cell phone regulations had a greater dependence on their cell phones compared to students at high schools with weak cell phone regulations.
The present study investigated whether adults and 5- and 6-year-old children could incrementally resolve referential ambiguity of adjective-noun phrases in Japanese. Using a visual world paradigm, the experiment examined whether the proportion of participants’ gaze on the referent and their pupil dilations were affected by the timing of disambiguation (pre-nominal adjective or noun). The results indicated that the proportion of the adults’ gazes showed a reliable effect of the timing of disambiguation, but this was not found in the results from the children. The 6-year-olds’ pupil dilation data showed larger pupil dilations in the adjective disambiguation condition than in the noun disambiguation condition. This suggests that the 6-year-olds also incrementally resolved the referential ambiguity. Furthermore, the adults showed a disambiguation effect, with larger dilations for the noun disambiguations than for the adjective disambiguations. No significant differences were observed in the data from the 5-year-olds. These results suggest that the 6-year-olds and the adults were able to resolve referential ambiguities incrementally, but that the 6-year-olds’ eye movement control was not as fully developed as the adults’. In addition, the results suggested that pupil dilations could be a complementary measure of on-line sentence processing. That would be especially advantageous when experimental participants are young children.
The present study examined efficacy of a brief social skills intervention in regular classrooms for improving the social skills and school adjustment of junior high school students with higher (H-ALT) or lower (L-ALT) levels of autistic-like traits. The students with higher levels of autistic-like traits were screened with the Social Responsiveness Scale. All of the students in the intervention group participated in class-based social skills training (3 sessions); the control group students were taught using the regular curriculum. The results indicated that the overall social skills and physical stress responses of the students in the intervention group who had higher levels of autistic-like traits (n=9) improved significantly, whereas the students in the control group who had higher levels of autistic-like traits (n=5) did not show any significant improvement on those measures. In addition, the students in the class who had lower levels of autistic-like traits (n=54) showed significantly ameliorated school adjustment compared to the control group (n=51). This suggests that effects of class-based social skills training may differ, depending on the level of the students’ autistic-like traits.
The “class size puzzle” refers to inconsistencies in the results of studies examining the relation between class size and academic achievement. One possible reason for this is that class size interacts with other factors. The present study examined differences in the relation between prior and subsequent achievement that have been attributed to class size, the number of classes within a grade (i.e., grade size), and the interaction of those factors, in the context of legal requirements relating to class size that affect both class size and the number of classes within a given grade. An analysis using a hierarchical linear modeling technique was conducted on 2-point panel data on achievement in the Japanese language at the start of the fourth and sixth grades, together with data on class size and the number of classes within those grades. The sample consisted of achievement data from fourth and fifth graders at 67 schools. The results suggested that for those pupils whose prior achievement had been lower, smaller class size and a larger number of classes within the grade were related to subsequent improvement in achievement more than were smaller class size and fewer classes within the grade. Discussion of these results related them to classroom quality and the frequency of collaborative efforts toward improving teaching content and teachers’ methods, both of which depend on class size and the number of classes within a grade.
The present study investigated relations between children’s emotional expression in their classroom and their subjective adjustment to the classroom. Self-report data were obtained from 70 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes (N=1,972 children), and reports were obtained from their teachers (N=70). The results of a multilevel analysis suggested that the children’s positive emotional expression was positively correlated with their subjective adjustment to their classroom, whereas their negative emotional expression was negatively correlated with their subjective adjustment to their classroom. Furthermore, an interaction was found between the children’s positive and negative emotional expression and some aspects of adjustment, specifically, their sense of comfort and sense of fulfillment. The results also suggested that children in classrooms with higher positive emotional expression reported higher subjective adjustment, whereas children in classrooms with higher negative emotional expression reported lower subjective adjustment.
In order to improve teachers’ professional knowledge through collaborative conversations during lesson study sessions, participant-driven lesson study emphasizes that the class instructor, the students in the class, and all other teachers at the school are participants in the process. Based on self-determination theory, the present article analyzes some examples of participant-driven lesson study from elementary schools, and describes how this method contributes to teachers’ professional learning and development. The present study uses a multi-method approach that combines discourse analysis, questionnaires, and interviews. The results indicated that teachers discuss and share realistic and detailed topics and episodes in the lesson study sessions, and that, by repeatedly holding such sessions, the teachers gradually come to understand that in lesson study, they should put more emphasis on the participants. This, in turn, leads to their active engagement and a better understanding of the outcomes of lesson study. The present results suggest that participant-driven lesson study may motivate teachers, facilitate their professional learning, and promote their career development by satisfying their basic psychological needs.
The present study examined effects of teachers’ self-recording of behavior-specific praise on children’s academic engagement in their classroom. The study was conducted in 3 general education classrooms in a Japanese elementary school, using a multiple baseline design across classes. The participants were the teachers of the 3 classes and a total of 85 children (2 first-grade classes, N=28 and 27 students; 1 third-grade class, N=30 students). In the baseline periods, the teachers’ use of behavior-specific praise and the children’s academic engagement during one 45-minute class was recorded several times a week for periods varying from 1 to 2 months. Next, in one 45-minute class per day, a self-recording procedure was implemented in which the teacher used behavior-specific praise while conducting class. The intervention continued for from 1 month to six weeks. During the intervention period, the trainer verbally praised the teachers 1 or 2 times a week when the recorded number of instances of behavior-specific praise had increased. After the intervention, the trainer’s feedback was terminated; follow-up data were collected from 2 to 4 times per classroom during a 12-day period. All 3 teachers’ self-recordings indicated that their use of behavior-specific praise increased during the intervention period, compared to the baseline, and that the percentage of the children’s academic engagement increased during the intervention. The follow-up data showed that the teachers’ use of behavior-specific praise and the improvement in the children’s academic engagement were maintained after the end of the intervention. Individual or small-group intervention programs may be necessary for children who do not show an increase in academic engagement.