Despite its advanced level of scientific research, Japan suffers from a low level of adult scientific literacy compared to many other developed countries. The current situation certainly necessitates a nationwide, robust solution. However, to implement any countermeasures, it is essential to first answer one of the fundamental questions: Does current school education guarantee the acquisition and maintenance of scientific literacy? To provide an answer, the present study examined high school textbooks from both Japan and Canada. Canada was chosen as a counterpart, since Canadian adults reportedly possess outstanding levels of scientific literacy. In this comparative analysis, questions from all of the biology textbooks were examined to reveal the directed level of cognitive processes, key factors considered to play essential roles for becoming scientifically literate. Categorization based on Bloom’s Taxonomy clearly demonstrated that Japanese high school textbooks were not equipped with questions that foster higher cognitive processes, contrary to the Canadian textbooks. Overall, the government-approved textbooks currently used throughout Japan appear to be insufficient for guaranteeing the acquisition and maintenance of scientific literacy.
Okayama Prefectural Kurashiki Amaki Senior High School has worked on the practical study of scientific English since 2005, when the school was given a Super Science High School (SSH) assignation by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In our school, and in this paper, the term “Scientific English” means “an approach to use English in science classes, and to make or practice slides in English”. As a result of adopting English into science classes in our Junior High School (established as an addition to the senior high school in 2007) and Group Research classes in our Senior High School, an attitude of attempting to communicate actively in English on scientific topics is emerging. With many opportunities to give presentations at science competitions in recent years, students’ presentations are now becoming highly esteemed in both content and English levels. This paper reports on the principle and practice of the implementation of “Scientific English” in our high schools, and teaching methods that are effective for Japanese students.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that inhibit students’ solving the problems of concentration in junior high school science. We identified eight types of factors; “comprehension of the structure of saline water”, “comprehension of the structure of solution”, “grasp of the formula of concentration of saline water”, “grasp of the formula of concentration”, “ability of converting percentages to decimal numbers”, “computing power of the percentage”, “ability of solving equations”, “ability of the deformation of the formula”. It also became evident that students have six learning stages in order to solve the problems of concentration. Therefore, students become able to solve those problems by achieving the six learning stages.
The current emphasis on active learning has led to the need for new, effective ways to assess various forms of learning. Among them, rubrics have emerged as one of the most popular assessment tools. However, it is supposed that teachers have to overcome several problems when they try to utilize rubrics in their classes. The present research investigated science teachers’ experiences and opinions on utilizing rubrics in junior high school and high school. For this purpose, a questionnaire was first developed, followed by interviews of science teachers. As a result, the following points emerged; although rubrics have been used in both formative and summative assessments, it was found that calibration and moderation for development of a rubric is difficult for teachers, and that there is insufficient time for many teachers to assess learning. Therefore, this paper argues that a mechanism for making lesson plans needs to have a specific purpose, focus on essential questions, and provide proper feedback.