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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr.)

From the classroom window

At Waseda University, in order to promote Faculty Development (FD), the FD Promotion Center was established in 2008 and is working to improve quality of education. We discussed actions for FD in the School of International Liberal Studies that was established in 2004, as well as unique features of classes taught by Professor Pinnington

*Faculty Development..General term for the systematic approach of faculty to improve lesson content and delivery.

The diversity of faculty and students creates classes which meet global standards

Professor Adrian J. Pinnington
School of International Liberal Studies

High expectations from students place pressure on professors

Since being established in 2004, the School of International Liberal Studies (hereinafter referred to as "SILS") has focused on FD. Almost all classes at SILS are conducted in English. One-third of faculty members are foreign citizens and one-third is women, which gives our school rich diversity. Many faculty members have experience teaching classes in Western countries where the concept of FD is progressing. Therefore, our faculty actively conducts FD.

One-third of SILS students are foreign students. The Japanese students also have experience in studying overseas and participating in classes at overseas universities. As a result, there are high expectations towards the classes. Furthermore, foreign students participating in the 1-year study abroad program report about the quality of Waseda when they return to their original universities. Therefore, the quality of classes has a direct impact on recruiting foreign students for the next academic year. Another feature of SILS is that there are few compulsory courses and many elective courses. This means that the popularity of classes is reflected in the number of enrollees. This evaluation by students exerts a positive pressure on faculty members and improves classes throughout the entire school.

SILS has also implemented a unique system for evaluation of classes. Questionnaire surveys are conducted at the end of the semester and results are shared with class instructors, curriculum directors and the dean of our school. These surveys are conducted in 90% of classes. The average evaluation is high and reflects a high level of overall satisfaction. However, even if the average evaluation for a certain class is low, we do not immediately make the conclusion that the said class is necessarily bad. Some classes satisfy the intellectual curiosity of students, while other classes may require that students work quite hard in order to keep up with the material covered. The latter type of classes is not always evaluated highly by students. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that the only good classes are those with a high evaluation.

An environment in which faculty members work hard together

During classes, opinions are actively exchanged by students from different countries

In order to maintain the quality of faculty members, a tenure track system has been implemented since our school was established. This system targets young faculty members and contains a 3-year trial period. In addition to the number of theses published and other research results, evaluation also considers whether faculty members are enthusiastic about education and contribute to FD. Furthermore, our school preceded other undergraduate schools in starting a peer review system among faculty. In the peer review system, researchers conduct mutual evaluation and review of each other's theses. The decision of whether or not to publish a thesis in our proceedings is made after peer review by two faculty members. This system creates confidence in research activities and encourages active submission of theses to overseas magazines, as well as participation in international academic conferences. As a result, it also contributes to FD. Additionally, we hold a weekly Faculty Seminar at which faculty members give research presentations. Since we are all coworkers, it is easy to exchange opinions regarding the positives and negatives of presentations. This fosters an atmosphere of improvement by working together and increases the quality of classes.

From last autumn, we begin a new program entitled Seoul National University Pilot Program. In this program, video conferencing is used to connect Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong and Waseda. Although credits cannot be earned, it is possible to take classes from outstanding faculty members at other universities. This makes the program very popular with students. Going forward, we also want to transmit classes from Waseda.

Valuing the sensation of being embarrassed at not knowing

In my classes, I consciously use difficult language. When students say that they don't understand, I challenge them by asking why they don't know. In belief, the sensation of being embarrassed at not knowing is important. However, this method is only effective in small-group seminars and other situations where a trusting relationship has been established. In large classes, I teach while observing the reaction of students, such as whether or not they laugh at my jokes.

There are two things which I would like to tell Japanese students. The first is that I want them to learn about and feel pride in Japanese culture and literature. Secondly, by learning about other countries, I want them to seriously study what aspects of Japan need to be changed. Similarly, I want foreign students to learn the positives of Japan and think about how to improve their own countries. I am proud that SILS provides an opportunity for such learning. In the future, I will continue to value my students and work to invigorate our school even further.

Professor Adrian J. Pinnington
School of International Liberal Studies

Born in London. Obtained his PhD in English literature at the University of Sussex Graduate School. Was involved in establishing the Waseda University School of International Liberal Studies. Appointed to his current position in 2004. Advisor to the International Haiku Society. Areas of expertise include British and American literature, Japanese literature and comparative literature. Won the Toshiba International Prize in 2002. Has written numerous essays and theses related to English and Japanese literature, including R.H. Blyth, 1866-1964.