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Research Projects in FY2019

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-FY2020]

Research Project Leader Hiroaki Ishizaki
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. Specifically, we will extend the previous longitudinal study of 2- and 3-year-olds (Project research, "Research on the Effects of Education [FY 2015-2017]") to cover the same students through ages 4 to 6. We will also perform a study of the schools attended by those students.

In FY2019, following on from the preceding project research, we will conduct a longitudinal study on older children (5 years old / 4th study period). At the end of the fiscal year, we will conduct a kindergarten study that includes questions regarding educational policies, educational facilities / environment, and the educational curriculum in the local government. We will also continue our nationwide online monitoring survey. Prior to our surveys, we will consider adding and deleting certain items from the surveys.

(2) Understanding Issues in Making and Implementing Evidence-based Education Policies [FY2019 - FY2021]

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

The concept of evidence-based policy making has been gaining prominence in education yet the issues in both making and implementing the evidence based policies have not yet been systematically examined. NIER is undertaking research that explores various administrative arrangements in national, local, and some overseas institutions with the aim of redressing the situation. The research has four main focuses: how evidence-based education policy making is currently executed in England and the United States; how effective the measures taken by the institutions have been when implementing the policies; what evidence the local governments have used in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures; what evidence has been used to assess schools and how the effectiveness of the chosen evidence may influence further policy making at local governments.

In FY2019 the research will first carry out literature review of existing studies and collecting documents and information about the institutions as well as the policies. This will be followed by visits to a number of schools, boards of education, and other relevant institutions. At the same time, by working with the MEXT, policies suitable for the purpose of this research will be selected from amongst the existing policies. In addition, questionnaires will be sent out to a number of boards of education in order to identify what indications are considered to be suitable evidence to be used in policy making.

2. Elementary and Secondary Education

(1) Empirical study on the formation of school curricula [FY2017-FY2021]

Research Project Leader Hiroyuki Sasai
Director of the Curriculum Research Center

We will conduct empirical research on school-based curriculum-development in preparation for revisions to national curriculum guidelines. Specifically, we will provide basic data in three core areas: 1) Empirical research on curriculum planning and improvement in schools; 2) Multidimensional research on competencies for creating a sustainable society; and 3) Analysis of educational trends in foreign countries and empirical research at MEXT-specified pilot schools designated for research purposes.

In FY2019, with respect to (1) above, we will prepare a report focused on the policies needed to achieve the core principles of the national curriculum guidelines, based on the analysis of the empirical research performed by schools and education centers. With respect to (2), we will create a research report with secondary analysis on scientific literacy, as well as conduct research on curriculum development with respect to contemporary issues and the new cultivation of the ability to utilize information. With respect to (3), we will publish reports on the implications of curriculum management in pilot schools. We will also conduct trend surveys on curriculum reform in other countries.

(2) Study on growth and learning, and the quality of the learning process from infancy [FY2017 - FY2022]

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 growing and learning by long-term monitoring throughout pre-primary to primary period, and (2) to examine how to assess the quality of the learning process in early childhood education and how to utilize the assessment.

In FY2019, 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 5-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 5-year-old children in a number of cooperating kindergartens throughout the country and will also conduct a quality assessment on the processes of early childhood education, on a trial basis.

(3) Study of educational reforms in response to developments in advanced information technology [FY2019 - FY2021]

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

In order to provide research findings that contribute to educational reform policies aimed at improvements to education quality by actively incorporating ICT, AI, and other advanced information technology into school education, we will organize the issues in need of consideration in order to utilize advanced information technology, clarify the conditions needed for educational reforms adapted to progress in advanced information technology, and develop skills and technology that make use of advanced information technology.

In FY2019, we will conduct hearings to collect precedents of research and educational reforms suited to the progress in advanced information technology in Japan and around the world. Based on the findings of those hearings as well as informatics, learning sciences, and educational technology, we will organize the issues in need of consideration in order to utilize advanced information technology. We will draw on the findings of those hearings to explore, from educational administration and educational management perspectives, the conditions needed for educational reforms adapted to progress in advanced information technology. In addition, our educational psychologist group is developing devices to measure cognitive load of teachers conducting lessons in classroom with reviewing research literature and looking into advancement of technology.

(4) Study on school spaces from the viewpoint of recognition of safety and security of students [FY2019 - FY2020]

Research Project Leader Hiroyuki Tanzawa
Director of the Educational Facilities Research Center

We will examine how school facilities users such as teaching staff and students evaluate the safety of school facilities with respect to disasters, crime and etc., whether they use those facilities, and the relationships thereof. We will also develop plans and maintenance methods that specify what should be emphasized in order to effectively evaluate safety and improve facility usage when implementing aging countermeasures and renovation for the lifespan extension for the aging facilities that account for roughly 70% of all public elementary and junior high school facilities.

In FY2019, we will confirm research papers in Japan and around the world, collect information on safety evaluations and facility usage by facility users, conduct visits to schools where distinctive users can be found, and conduct hearings with relevant parties. And we will design questionnaires pertaining to the content, spatial composition / design, needs, and issues of safety improvement initiatives and facility usage improvement initiatives, and distribute the appropriate paper questionnaire.

3. Educational Staff

(1) Study on verification of educational policies on the allocation of teachers and other matters [FY2016-FY2020]

Research Project Leader Hiroaki Ishizaki
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. In this context, we aim to pursue research that uses surveys of academic ability and student learning conducted among local governments to empirically verify the impact of class sizes and teacher allocation on academic ability and non-cognitive ability, as well as the effect of special student support on truancy and other problematic behaviors. This research also aims to provide basic data for education policy.

In FY2019, 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 ability and a questionnaire of teachers, and analyze the results.

4. Higher Education

(1) Study on demand for higher education in an era of a declining 18-year-old population [FY2018-FY2019]

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 FY2019, we will progress further on analysis of the Basic School Survey, studying what types of universities can be found in each region and whether opportunities to proceed to university are available, while also exploring the possibility of establishing regional blocks that differ from standard regional categories. We will also develop the data needed for simulations of numbers of those who go to college / fulfillment rate to admission-capacity in an era with a declining 18-year-old population. Furthermore, we will also focus on regional biases in admission capacity by area of study (major), studying the distribution of university and college to which students enroll and attempting to re-study and re-formulate, with theoretical and policy implications, regional disparities in college advancement opportunity. We will also determine whether to re-analyze student surveys (individual data) in light of the analytical results of the Basic School Survey and report on the various results of these analyses.

Through the aggregation work involved in the Department for Higher Education Research's "A National Study of College Student Engagement" (in collaboration with Student Life Survey conducted by JASSO), we will also study issues related to this project (where students live when graduating from high school, their current living situation [commuter student / resident student], etc.) and consider both results based on macro statistics and their consistency with micro-level surveys. We will then publish a report on these subjects.

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 Manami Shishida
Senior Researcher, of the Department for Lifelong Learning Policy Research

In this research, in order to examine measures to develop learning opportunities for improving adult skills deal with 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 "learning opportunities that contribute to social activities"), and (2) analyzing the adult skills required in social activities.

In FY2019, we will conduct interviews with learning activity program developers, carried on from FY2018. We will use text mining software to determine from the interviews what adult skills are considered most important, and conduct analysis of differences and correlations between types of learning opportunities. Moreover, we will compare with the OECD's Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies to clarify the characteristics of Japanese adult skills needed for participation in social activities. We publish this in a report together with discussion of certain problems and issues identified through opinion-exchange at symposiums and other conferences.

Research Results Digest