Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
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Displaying 1-28 of 28 articles from this issue
  • Kentaro KAMADA
    2024 Volume 91 Issue 1 Pages 1-12
    Published: 2024
    Released on J-STAGE: June 21, 2024

     The university reforms that have taken place since 1991 in Japan have been policy-driven and policy-guided by the government and have involved the entire university system. However, research has not been sufficient to verify whether the reforms have been effective, and the relationship between university reforms and student changes has not been clarified. Therefore, this paper focuses on first-year seminars, one of the main focuses of university reform, and examines the effects of the introduction and reform of first-year seminars on the learning attitudes and behaviors of university students from the 1990s to the 2010s, paying attention to the heterogeneity of effects depending on students' social class of origin.

     The analysis revealed that the reform of first-year seminars did not increase students' learning awareness or promote learning behavior, either in the period after the introduction of first-year seminars or the period of reform of first-year seminars incorporating active learning. Furthermore, there was no heterogeneity in the effects of first-year seminars according to the students' class of origin, and it was not confirmed that first-year education had an impact on compensation for students from lower classes of origin.

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  • Hiroki IGARASHI
    2024 Volume 91 Issue 1 Pages 13-25
    Published: 2024
    Released on J-STAGE: June 21, 2024

     Much educational research in Japan has discussed the impact of the marketization of education through the neoliberal reform of education upon parental school choice. Fujita (2006) introduces the “rich flight” phenomenon whereby relatively wealthy families choose private schools rather than local public schools. However, parental school choice stimulated by the marketization of education is not completely within the realm of the national education system. As Ball and Nikita (2014) suggest, parental school choice has become supra-territorial due to the rapid expansion of the international school market worldwide. While diplomats, missionaries, and expatriate families have traditionally selected international schools, Hayden (2011) notes that the transnational capitalist class, wealthy local families, and global middle-class families are now more actively choosing international schools as well. However, we do not know how the patterns of Japanese families' choice of international schools are classed beyond explanations based on their economic resources (Nakamura 1999). This study, therefore, aims to fill the research gap.

     The author conducted fieldwork in the kindergarten division of Wakana International School (pseudonym) (hereafter, Wakana Kindergarten) in Tokyo for six months in the early 2010s, followed immediately by semi-structured interviews with 31 Japanese families who had enrolled their children there. Wakana International School is categorized as a “non-traditional international school” (Hayden & Thompson 1995), where most children are Japanese nationals.

     The findings reveal that most Japanese families using Wakana Kindergarten were capitalists engaged in domestic and global corporate management, professionals such as medical doctors, and elite white-collar workers. In addition, the families' economic resources are higher than those of families choosing ordinary private schools. Japanese parents' reasons for choosing Wakana Kindergarten included 1) the societal conditions of Tokyo, 2) wanting their children to study (in) English, associated with parents' educational and work careers, and 3) dissatisfaction with public and private school education. There was a tendency for less educated families to self-eliminate themselves from the local educational competition due to their perceived disadvantages and choose Wakana Kindergarten as an “honorable substitute” (Brooks and Waters 2009).

     This study has two contributions. First, while existing research in Japan on parental choice of international schools has primarily employed explanations based on families' economic resources, this case study provides empirical data on how parents' occupations, educational backgrounds, and economic stratification affect their patterns of school choice, leading to the choice of an international school. In particular, this research reveals a classed push factor, particularly for less-educated affluent families, to avoid local educational competition and choose an international school. Lastly, this study suggests future research on educational inequality and parentocracy in order to examine the effect of the marketization of education at the national and global levels, as parents' school choices and educational strategies are also affected by the latter.

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  • Junichi SHIBANO
    2024 Volume 91 Issue 1 Pages 26-39
    Published: 2024
    Released on J-STAGE: June 21, 2024

     The COVID-19 pandemic caused many educational activities to stagnate. Amid this unprecedented event, teachers took various measures to ensure that students' learning was not disrupted. Studies on teachers in Japan have accumulated at a remarkable rate, while focusing only on a single country and on educational issues within that country. However, teachers located between nations, as in overseas Japanese schools, have been overlooked. Therefore, the experiences of Japanese teachers who faced the pandemic overseas have not been the subject of research. This study explores how teachers confronted and addressed the crisis from a transnational perspective through interviews with those assigned to overseas Japanese schools during the pandemic.

     The findings are twofold. First, the teachers faced three crises in the early stages of the pandemic: "school closures" due to local quarantine measures, "teacher shortages" due to the inability of newly dispatched teachers to leave Japan, and "student dispersal" due to the temporary return of Japanese residents to Japan. In particular, the problems of cross-border migration, such as teacher shortages and student dispersal, are crises unique to overseas Japanese schools located between nations. Therefore, teachers were forced to reorganize the Japanese curriculum, establish online classes consistent with local school closure policies, deal with subject and homeroom teacher shortages, and care for children in different countries and regions. However, due to their precarious position, overseas Japanese schools had difficulty receiving adequate public support from Japan or their host countries and had to deal with the crisis independently.

     Second, the teachers addressed the crisis by utilizing the resources at hand in response to the environments surrounding the schools. Specifically, they worked with teachers in Japan and overseas Japanese schools to create classes during school closures. Also, they established school systems which resolved the teacher shortage through online collaboration between teachers in the host country and Japan. Furthermore, they expanded existing curricula and timetables to deal with the diverse needs of displaced children. These educational practices can be called "transnational crisis response. " However, in some cases, there were negative consequences, such as the fragmentation of teaching staff and the closure of schools.

     Based on these findings, the final section of this paper discusses the challenges of educational systems based on theoretical nationalism and the possibilities for teachers' transnational practice.

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Research Notes
  • Keisuke NAKAMURA
    2024 Volume 91 Issue 1 Pages 40-50
    Published: 2024
    Released on J-STAGE: June 21, 2024

     The Incorporated Foundation Educational Test Research Institute (ETRI) was established in 1963 to implement the NOKEN Test, mainly for high school students, which was also expected to be used in university entrance exams. This paper discusses actions on the financial struggles of the ETRI, one of the most important factors in the brief life of the NOKEN Test, by analyzing historical records in the National Archives of Japan and elsewhere.

     The results of the analysis are as follows. First, it became normalized for the ETRI to enter into bank loans. Second, the ETRI discussed three concrete solutions to its financial difficulty: increasing the fee for the NOKEN Test, raising money through increased donations, and reinforcing central government support. Among these, ETRI directors mainly supported the third option; some opined that the ETRI should change from an incorporated foundation to a special corporation. Thereafter, the exam fee was increased and the subsidy from the Ministry of Education doubled. However, the Ministry of Education intended to deal with the financial struggles of the ETRI by reducing costs and raising money for donations; becoming a special corporation was not discussed concretely. As a result, the NOKEN Test was called off in 1969. This conclusion offers new suggestions about the factors in the brief life of the NOKEN Test.

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Educational Reform Plan
Report on the 82th Annual Conference of the Japanese Educational Research Association
Issues Research
Open Synposium
General Report
Book Review
Book Review