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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)

From the classroom window

This report introduces projects that implement high-level education worthy of being called the "Waseda of education".

In 2008, Waseda University established the Faculty Development Promotion Center in order to advance faculty development (hereafter referred to as "FD"). These efforts also serve to heighten the quality of education. In this report, we discussed experiences in North American FD training and features of classes with Associate Professor Morita of the Faculty of Human Sciences. Professor Morita conducts research in education that utilizes information communication technology.

*Faculty Development: A general name for organizational actions that enable faculty to reform and improve class content and teaching methods.

Classes that elicit potential based on the individual characteristics of each student

Associate Professor Yusuke Morita
Waseda University at the Faculty of Human Sciences

The educational philosophy felt at American liberal arts colleges※1

Last year, as part of Waseda University's FD program, I participated in FD training※2held at an affiliated university in America. Upon observing classes, I noticed that instructors did not exert total control over discussion during lectures. Instead, instructors conducted two-way classes which emphasized communication with students. The instructors were clearly conscious of assessing the knowledge and experience of each student and building on that basis. I also noticed that instructors did not make ad lib questions to students during classes. Rather, they valued the act of students asking questions. I felt their philosophy as instructors from the way in which they prepared for and conducted their classes.

As part of FD training, I was asked to actually conduct a class at that college. To start, I memorized the names of all students and worked to communicate with them. Next, I made an effort to understand what interests spurred each student to participate in the class. These steps are fundamental and are taken by any teacher working at the elementary or junior high school level. Through the training I reconfirmed that such fundamental efforts should be made at the university level.

A stance of supporting rather than instructing

Each student possesses unique attributes. For example, some students are adept at public speaking while other students find it very difficult. Instead of conducting a one-sided lesson, I believe that it is important to consider the feelings of each student even during group lessons held in large classrooms. For example, an instructor should walk among desks and alleviate the nervousness of students by encouraging them in advance.

What exactly constitutes high-quality education? I believe that it is important to assess the unique characteristics of each student and to create lessons which encourage students to take the initiative in learning. Furthermore, instructors should provide an environment in which students can naturally display and improve their talents. This stance can be described as supporting student rather than conducting one-side instruction. I believe that even university faculty require such mental preparation for conducting classes.

University role in building steadily to create culture

The role of university education is different from the education which is conducted until high school. Universities must develop students with the ability to challenge new problems instead of simply studying passively. I believe that we must guide students to recognize that universities are institutions which create new culture while inheriting current culture.

Left) Training was held at Albion College
Right) Class using an electronic blackboard

In addition to knowledge, I hope that students in my class will also acquire a method of thinking. I want them to acquire a way of thinking in which they combine new information with information that they already possess, organize such information and then expand the network of information. During classes, I use structural diagrams which visible express the relation between previous material and material currently being taught. I expect students to possess the adaptability to discern the essence of complicated problems and to find solutions using their own abilities.

Recently, I had the opportunity to borrow a rakugo (Japanese standup comedy) from a fellow professor. I was naturally drawn into the act while watching the CD and I felt satisfied at the end of the performance. This comedy performance gave me a hint for conducting my lessons. Although I cannot imitate comedic performances or skilled lecturers, I want to utilize my own personality in order to conduct education which will expand the abilities of each student.

※1 : What is a liberal arts college?
A 4-year university where students can engage in a broad study of specialized fields which encompass the human sciences, natural sciences and social sciences. Feature all-dormitory living accommodations and small-group education.

※2 : What is FD training held at affiliated American universities?
A 3-week onsite training program which enables instructors to study advance projects in America with the objective of realizing highly-effective course management in accordance with international standards. 10 instructors participate in the program every year.

Associate Professor Yusuke Morita
Waseda University at the Faculty of Human Sciences

After completing the Master's Program at the Tokyo Gakugei University Graduate School of Education, completed the Doctoral Program in human behavioral systems at the Tokyo Institute of Technology Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology. Has served as a Research Associate at the School Education Research Center in the Naruto University of Education and a Full-Time Instructor/Associate Professor at the Nagasaki University School of Education. Assumed his current position in April 2007. His field of expertise is educational engineering. He conducts practical research which explores the potentials and limits of education which utilizes information communication technology.