Improving the Level of Education
Efforts to Improve the Level of Education by the Education Improvement Team
Dr. Tetsuyuki Kobayashi, Professor, Ochanomizu University
Japan today faces a turning point as significant to society qualitatively as the Meiji Restoration. Reform is required in secondary education from the ground up to meet growing societal demands. The four graduate schools in this consortium each bring to the table special features and unique histories, which contribute unique characteristics to the life sciences and to interdisciplinary education and research. The cross-disciplinary educational system we are creating takes advantage of the special features of each university and transcends the existing framework of a public or private university in Japan. The system will provide a new kind of graduate school education offering complementary components in the field of interdisciplinary life sciences. The Education Improvement Team aims to produce life scientists who are flexible in meeting the needs of society and have acquired specialization across a broad range of fields. Utilizing an effective collaboration among the four universities, we have focused specifically on the following three core areas to expand the complementary components of graduate school education.
1. Development of a common curriculum and improvement through credit exchanges
Graduate programs tend to lack a structured syllabus in comparison to undergraduate programs. To improve this situation, we identified common subjects that draw upon the individual strengths of each university and implemented a system of credit exchange to allow students of the four universities to take classes at each other’s universities. The four universities thus developed a common curriculum of complementary courses in the life sciences and created a syllabus, including courses related to the life sciences, elective courses in the humanities and the social sciences, and classes taught in English, whether by Japanese or non-Japanese instructors.
2. Joint implementation of faculty development (FD)
Graduate school education today is undergoing change around the world, particularly in Europe. In the graduate school programs related to this consortium, it is important for faculty to acquire skills and knowledge in line with international faculty development standards. The aim of this effort is improve the capabilities of individual faculty members while working to deepen exchanges among faculty of the four universities. It is also designed for the sharing of information and skills related to research and education that form the foundation of graduate school education. To accomplish these things, we plan to host many kinds of FD training sessions and seminars for faculty from the four participating universities, including seminars to study the realities and problems facing graduate school education systems both inside and outside Japan, and seminars to improve skills in giving lectures in English.
3. Standardization of degree requirements
Many problems are recognized today with regard to degree requirements in graduate school programs. By standardizing degree requirements among the four universities related to interdisciplinary life sciences, the consortium is working to make requirements both stricter and more transparent. We also plan to establish an effective system among the four universities that will enable faculty to provide individualized research guidance to students across university boundaries depending on the student’s research topic. As an extension, a system is being set up whereby faculty from other participating universities can participate in setting degree requirements.