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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)

Part.3 Acquiring the foundation to open the door to academics

Objective of "university-wide fundamental education"

The goal of university-wide fundamental education is to increase basic abilities which are necessary as a student at university and as a member of society after graduation. This is also a central program in our university's goal for the fulfillment of an "Waseda Education".This article discusses the substance of university-wide fundamental education and examines the kind of instruction given within the program.

Why is university-wide fundamental education necessary now?

Students who have entered university after studying at junior high school and high school require the basic academic ability to open the door to the world of academics at university. This basic academic ability consists of English ability which enables communication within a global society, Japanese ability for writing academic papers, and mathematical ability necessary for studying humanities. In order to advance university-wide fundamental education for the enhancement of these 3 basic academic abilities, our university has opened the "Waseda-Style Academic Literacy Series for 10,000 Students", which is provided by the Open Education Center.

Furthermore, as part of the "Academic Writing Program" for the acquirement of skills needed to compose academic papers, Waseda has established a Writing Center (refer to page 15). The activities of the center are separate from credit acquirement and provide students from all schools with instruction for the development of logical thought needed for writing academic papers. Students can receive this instruction as needed on a voluntary basis.

Our university is seeking to become a "world-wide Waseda" where students and instructors gather from all countries and regions. We believe that these abilities form the basis of all academic fields and are an essential strength for confronting and solving the various issues held by international society.

Waseda-Style Academic Literacy Series for 10,000 Students
English Ability

In order to instill students with "English that can be immediately used in actual society" and to foster international communication skills, programs have been developed which support all levels and goals. Students can study to achieve a variety of goals such as preparation for foreign study, English training for advancement into graduate school, and performance in international society.

The weak image of English at Waseda University no longer exists.

Step1 Tutorial English

These level-based small group lessons of 4 students or less are conducted by tutors (instructors) who are either native speakers or Japanese with a wealth of overseas experience. The lessons thoroughly instill students with speaking and hearing ability. After the lessons, reading and writing ability is reinforced through private study using the internet. Students can also receive private advice from tutors on a special website.

Tutorial English is treated as a compulsory English course by some schools and is taken by 10,000 students every year.

Step2 Cross-Cultural Distance Learning (CCDL)

CCDL (Cross-Cultural Distance Learning) enables students to use the English acquired through study in Tutorial English to participate in discussions with overseas students.

The lessons are held entirely in English. Students deepen their understanding of different cultures and of cross-cultural communication by debating with overseas students from countries such as Taiwan, Korea and China.

Step3 Cyber Seminars & Cyber Lectures

This is the final step for studying a specialized field in English. By using on-demand lectures and television conferencing systems, students participate in overseas joint lectures and seminars on topics such as the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in East Asia.

Japanese Ability Creation of Academic Papers

This program instills students with the basic skills for creating academic papers which are required when studying at university. The program uses on-demand lessons which can be accessed at any time from university computers or computers at the student's home. Writing ability is increased by engaging in topic-based writing and then receiving private feedback from instructors.

A student's very attitude towards learning is expressed through academic writing skills. These are skills for writing one's own opinion based on knowledge constructed by predecessors. Furthermore, thought becomes precise by using language selectively.

Seeking to become an independent writer
Writing Center

The Waseda University Writing Center was established in 2008. It is the first full-fledged experiment in writing at an Asian university. The center is a support system in which students bring papers which they were assigned in classes to the center. Tutors then instruct students in methods for correcting the papers.

Together with the on-demand lesson described above, the Writing Center is positioned as part of the Academic Writing Program.

Tutors are graduate students enrolled in the Master's or Doctorate programs of Waseda University. All tutors have passed through strict review and training. Tutors converse with students so that the writer himself or herself notices the problems of or methods of correcting what has been written. In other words, the Writing Center is not an organization for the correction of written material, but is an organization which seeks to develop independent writers. There are currently 20 tutors, and over 1,300 sessions are held every year.

Students have expressed their thanks through comments like "It helped that you not only corrected my writing, but also taught me a different way of thinking" and "You assisted me in organizing the thoughts in my mind so that I understood what I wanted to say."

Mathematical Ability Mathematical Basics Plus α/Mathematical Basics Plus β

This program develops mathematical and logical thinking ability through familiar mathematics such as the calculation of interest. Mathematics is utilized in a variety of academic fields and is an absolutely necessary skill when one enters society. We hope that even students who are studying humanities and are adverse to mathematics will enroll in this course. The program uses an on-demand system for independent study by computer. However, teaching assistants provide assistance by email or at consultations windows, and individual support is given until the student understands.

Student Voice What I obtained from taking the courses.
English, Japanese, and mathematics. I enrolled in all of the courses.
Planning to use these abilities after graduation.

Eriko Hara , 3rd Year Student
School of International Liberal Studies

Initially, I enrolled in CCDL simply because I wanted to improve my English skill. I was not able to acquire "living English" when studying English for entrance examinations, and I was attracted by the idea of studying for such English ability through exchanges with students of various countries. The lessons which I took at CCDL are something that I will always remember, and I decided to enroll in the Japanese and mathematics courses which are provided by the same Open Education Center. These courses are taught in an on-demand format, and the ability to study whenever I liked was appealing.

In addition to acquiring English ability, classes at the CCDL also enabled me to gain a close understanding of the lifestyles and culture of foreign students. In the Japanese course, I studied the fundamentals of writing reports which are necessary when studying at university. In the mathematics course, I was able to continue studying without any problems even though I had never earnestly studied mathematics before.

All of these courses not only enable students to study skills which are needed at university, but also instill students with abilities which will be useful after graduation. In the future, I hope to enroll in CCDL courses which I have not yet taken in order to increase my English ability. While taking such course, I hope not only to acquire English ability, but also to absorb a variety of different cultures.