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Research Projects in FY2018

Research Projects are the research activities, conducted by project teams composed of researcher both inside and outside NIER, through which NIER sets its research agenda for administrative policy issues. The research period is about two to five years.

1. Educational Administration and Finance

(1) Study on educational effect [FY2018-2020]

Research Project Leader Shimeon Inoue
Director of the Department of Research Planning and Development

By first conducting a longitudinal study on a trial basis in Japan following pre-school children, we aim to explore the feasibility of conducting a long-term longitudinal study and accumulate knowledge and experience of the management of such study. Based on the data collected in the trial study, we will examine the influences of the pre-school education and childcare facility environment, the parenting views of the parents, and parent-child relationships, and other influences on subsequent development for children. We will also aim to provide a perspective that will be useful for the improvement of the school education system.
  Following on from the preceding research projects, in FY2018, we will conduct a follow-up survey of second grade kindergarten children (4 to 5-year-olds) and a kindergarten survey on educational policies, educational facilities / environment, and the educational curriculum. We will also continue our nationwide online monitoring survey. In addition, we will compile a report on basic findings from the longitudinal survey of 2 to 4-year-old children conducted in the preceding project and on the merits and demerits of the survey methods.

(2) Study on the diversity and expertise of local educational administration-Regional revitalization and educational administration [FY2016-2018]

Research Project Leader Keiko Watanabe
Director of the Department for Educational Policy and Evaluation Research

Based on a series of implementations of policies that may affect the educational administration of the local governments such as the transition to the new board of education system in FY2015, decentralization reform, regional revitalization, and responses to a population-declining society, this study aims to acquire comprehensive knowledge that will contribute to the future planning of educational administrative measures of local governments by examining the current situation and issues of local educational administration, and validating the effects and impact of decentralization reform and the new board of education system.
  After the results of the questionnaire survey conducted of the prefectural governments to verify the validity of the classification in the formulation process of the goutlines regarding educationh of the local governments, we will continue to conduct a visitation survey inquiring about distinctive endeavors. In addition, we will reexamine the characteristics of the Japanese board of education system through compiling the knowledge gained by comparing the local educational administrative organizations. In addition, we will conduct further school-visit surveys, etc., to review the status of implementation of integrated elementary and lower secondary school education, and will analyze data on the personnel transfer of teachers and staff. Examining the knowledge obtained, we will compile reports.

2. Elementary and Secondary Education

(1) Empirical study on the formation of school curricula [FY2017-2021]

Research Project Leader Yasuhiro Komatsu
Director of the Curriculum Research Center

We will be conducting an empirical study on the formation of school curricula in preparation for future revision of the Courses of Study. Specifically, research will be focused on the three pillars of (1) an empirical study on designing and improving school curricula, (2) multifaceted and multilayered research on the kind of literacy required in the future, and (3) the trends of other countries, as well as the practical research of the R&D schools, and we will be providing basic materials geared towards future revision of the Courses of Study.
  In FY2018, in the case of (1) above, we will be collecting case studies on the formation of school curricula and teaching practices in order to nurture competencies, and we will be organizing the outcomes and issues of the endeavors. For (2), we will be studying directions for the curriculum to foster scientific literacy by utilizing international comparative surveys on the science curriculum and the PISA 2015 data. For (3), we will be organizing the practical research of the R & D schools and local educational research centers on the theme of curriculum management in schools included in the new Courses of Study, and in January 2019, we will be holding a public symposium on educational research for the purpose of reporting and disseminating the outcomes.

(2) Study on the motivation and attitudes of Japanese students based on questionnaire survey results [FY2017-2018]

Research Project Leader Takumi Hamaguchi
Director of the Guidance and Counseling Research Center

In terms of such surveys as the students' attitude surveys accompanying the academic achievement test of Japan and other countries, and the surveys on attitude relating to children's learning and school life etc. conducted by NIER, the national government and the national incorporated administrative agencies, etc., we will be analyzing the trends of the students' answers and associated factors with a particular focus on the following survey items: (1) self-affirmation and normative consciousness, (2) preference and usefulness in learning the subjects, and (3) sociability and the building of relationships with others. At the same time, while utilizing the results of these analyses, we will conduct studies with the participation of outside scholars and experts with regard to ways of presenting the results of the students' questionnaires so that they contribute to improved teaching in the schools and the policy planning of the boards of education.
  In FY2018, based on the considerations of the previous fiscal year, we will be listening to the opinions of the relevant persons of the boards of education, where necessary, and studying the methods of presenting the results of analysis which will serve as reference material for the initiatives of the national government, the boards of education and schools by extracting the matters for further analysis such as the student's sense of self-affirmation, motivation to learn, and sense of sociability from various existing survey results, and by conducting a secondary analysis etc.

(3) Study on learning space from the perspective of active learning [FY2017-2018]

Research Project Leader Masayuki Mori
Director of the Educational Facilities Research Center

In terms of efforts to improve classes towards the realization of "independent and interactive deep learning" (in other words, active learning), we aim to contribute to the planning of educational facility policies taking into consideration the new Courses of Study, and improvement of the school facilities by focusing on the practical examples of Japan and other countries, to examine and analyze the measures and challenges in terms of facilities and equipment which support "independent and interactive deep learning", and to summarize the findings.
  In FY2018, we will be asking certain schools to answer a questionnaire, and will analyze the results after collecting the answers, and acquire new knowledge on teaching methods, facility use, and other elements. In addition to the questionnaire, we will be conducting a school-visit survey, and based on the findings obtained from a literature study and other research, we will organize and analyze the characteristics, background and issues of each of the schools subject to the school-visit survey with a focus on the correlation between the teaching methods and facility use. Based on the literature survey, the questionnaire, and the school-visit survey, we hope to identify the actual situation and problems of the learning spaces considered necessary for the learning process from the viewpoint of active learning, and produce the outcomes of the research.

(4) Study on growth and learning, and the quality of the learning process from infancy [FY2017-2022]

Research Project Leader Keiko Watanabe
Director of the Early Childhood Education Research Center

The objective of this study is to obtain basic knowledge of the significance of pre-primary and primary education and the impact of the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) on subsequent growth and learning, by conducting a longitudinal study of children from pre-primary to primary education period.
  In particular, we aim: (1) to grasp a better picture of socio-emotional skills which sustain children's growth and learning by long-term monitoring from pre-primary to primary, and (2) to examine how to assess the quality of the learning process in early childhood education and how to utilize the assessment.
  In FY2018, we will be conducting a questionnaire survey objected to the ECEC staff (kindergarten teachers, nursery workers, and ECEC teachers) and parents on cognitive skills and socio-emotional skills developed among 4-year-old children. The survey will be conducted through collaboration mainly with the local governments which established their childhood education centers, on 100 ECEC institutions (kindergartens, nursery centers, and centers for ECEC). In addition, we will be conducting interviews of 4-year-old children in a number of cooperating kindergartens in the country and will also conduct trial based assessments of "the quality of the process" in their early childhood education.

3. Educational Staff

(1) Study on verification of educational policies on the allocation of teachers and other matters [FY2016-2018]

Research Project Leader Shimeon Inoue
Director of the Department of Research Planning and Development

Verifying the impact that class size, the allocation of teachers and improvised teaching methods have on developing children's competencies and on problem behavior is an important issue in education policymaking.
  Based on these circumstances, we aim to examine the impact of the allocation of teachers and class size on academic ability and non-cognitive competencies by utilizing the surveys on the status of academic achievements and learning of individual local governments, to conduct research to empirically validate the effects of additional support for children exhibiting school refusal behavior, and to provide basic data for education policy planning.
  In FY2018, we will continue our study on the effects of class size as in the previous year, and conduct a questionnaire to measure children's non-cognitive skills and a questionnaire of teachers, and analyze the results.

(2) Comprehensive study on pre-service training and in-service training of teachers in "next-generation schools", and strengthening of the functions of management [FY2017 - FY2018]

Research Project Leader Yuji Saruta
Director of the Department for Elementary and Secondary Education Research

The purpose of this study is to steadily nurture the competencies required of children in the future, and to maximize the abilities of diverse children, as well as to provide findings which will contribute to the examination of policies in order to enhance the competencies of the teachers and the functions of management in "next generation schools", which are to be realized by the combined efforts of society through cooperation and collaboration between the schools and the local community. There are three pillars to consider in order to realize "next-generation schools". The first is the pre-service training and post-service training of teachers and other staff. The second is strengthening of the functions of management. The third is the development of teaching methods that can be practicable in small pupil-teacher ratio classroom. We will be conducting comprehensive research based on these surveys, and will provide basic data that contributes to education policy development.
  Last year, we published the two reports on the right.
  In FY2018, based on the results of the analysis of interviews and observation studies conducted in the previous fiscal year and the findings of previous research on ways of supporting the superintendent of the board of education and others in order to strengthen the functions of management, we will identify the leadership competencies that demonstrates effectiveness and propose findings on training programs to foster leadership competencies by conducting a questionnaire of the superintendents of the boards of education and the school principals. Regarding the teaching method development study, we have conducted experimental lessons to reveal the differences between conventional and developed lessons in terms of pupils' engagement with using the novel technology to capture real-time body motions over an entire lesson period.

4. Higher Education

Study on demand for higher education in an era of a declining 18-year-old population [FY2018-2019]

Research Project Leader Yoshitaka Hamanaka
Deputy Director of Department for Higher Education Research

Through analysis of the interregional movement of students corresponding to progression to higher education, we aim to (1) predict demand for future higher education by region, (2) to envisage a demand and supply structure of higher education based on the patterns of intra / interregional progression to higher education, and (3) examine in detail the mechanism of disparities in educational opportunities.
  In FY2018, we will focus mainly on analyzing the Basic School Survey and will discuss with the experts based on the results. Using the data of the Basic School Survey, we will ascertain the extent of the interregional movement of students progressing to higher education, extract intra-regional and inter-regional movement patterns which correspond to admission into college and university, and endeavor to classify the movement patterns. In doing so, we will pay particular attention to regional characteristics, the status of enrollment capacity in major fields of study, and other attributes of each institution (selectivity, history, etc.).

5. Lifelong Learning Policy Research

Basic study on the adult skills necessary for social activities, and on various learning opportunities [FY2018 - FY2019]

Research Project Leader Takumi Hamaguchi
Director of the Department for Lifelong Learning Policy Research

In this research, in order to examine measures to develop learning opportunities for improving adult skills suitable for a changing social environment, we will empirically identify the adult skills required in society by (1) ascertaining and classifying the actual conditions of various learning opportunities designed to have people engage in social activities and play an active role in society (hereinafter referred to as glearning opportunities that contribute to social activitiesh), and (2) analyzing the adult skills required in social activities.
  In FY2018, we will be gathering information on learning opportunities that contribute to social activities from experts in the fields of social education, higher education, social welfare, and labor training, and after analyzing the results and categorizing a tentative plan of types, we will be selecting candidates as interview subjects for each type. In addition, we will also be creating a study format to interview the program developers of advanced learning activities selected for each type. Furthermore, we will also be gathering information on adult learning support systems in Europe and the US, adult skills at the OECD, etc. and will be identifying the characteristics of advanced cases of adult learning opportunities for social activities.

Research Results Digest