Professional Organizations
¡International Society for Education
President, 2006-
Advisory Board
Lionel McKenzie iUniversity of Rochesterj
David Pines iUniversity of Californiaj
Joyce Tsunoda iUniversity of Hawaiij
James Yorke iUniversity of Marylandj
Hiroshi Ezawa iGakushuin Universityj
Hiroshi Ikeda iDirector of The Japan Association for Research on Testing, Professor Emertus, Rikkyo Universityj
Yasuo Morita iTohoku Universityj
Kazuo Okamoto iUniversity of Tokyoj
Yoshisuke Ueda iFuture University-Hakodatej
Kenji Ueno iKyoto Universityj

Honors
¡Japan Mathematical Society, Publication Prize 2005
 

Academic Papers

¡gBasic Morality and Social Success in Japan”, (with Junichi Hirata, Tadashi Yagi, and Junko Urasaka)
Journal of Informatics and Data Mining,ol.1, No.1, 2016, Insight Medical Publishing, Delaware, USA.
http://datamining.imedpub.com/basic-morality-and-social-success-in-japan.pdf
¡gImpact of High School Science Studies on Incomes of Japanese University Graduates”, (with Junichi Hirata, Junko Urasaka and Tadashi Yagi)
US-China Education Review B, Vol3, no.9, 2013, 651-662.
¡gMathematics & Science Education and Income: An Empirical Study in Japan”, (with Junichi Hirata, Junko Urasaka and Tadashi Yagi)
Journal of Reviews on Global Economics, Vol.2, pp.1-8, 2013
¡gAnnual Incomes of University Graduates and their Science Studies during High School Periods”, (with Junichi Hirata, Junko Urasaka and Tadashi Yagi)
Recent Advances in Modern Educational Technologies, edited by Hamido Fujita and Jun Sasaki, pp.42-45, WSEAS Press, April 2013.
¡gParentsf Educational Background, Subjects gGood-Ath in Schools affect Income: an Empirical Studyh, (with Junichi Hirata, Junko Urasaka and Tadashi Yagi)
The Japanese Economic Review, Vol.57, pp.533-546, 2006
¡gDetection of Thinking in Human by Magnetoencephalographyh, (with Mitsuo Tonoike and Yoshikazu Tobinaga)
World Congress of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 2006, IFMBE Proceedings Vol. 14, pp.2617-2621, 2006 September
¡gWorking and Training: A Nonlinear Dynamic Analysis of Human Capital Developmenth, (with Tadashi Yagi and Makoto Yano)
The Japanese Economic Review, Vol.55, No.2, pp.119-140, June 2004
¡gWorking on the brain and rationality in economic behaviorh, (with Yoshikazu Tobinaga)
The Proceeding of the IJCNN 2003 (The 2003 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks by the International Neural Network Society and the IEEE Neural Networks Society), 2604-2608, 2003
¡gStudying Mathematics and University Education, Labor Income and Career Promotion Empirical Analysis on the gSurvey on the Effects of Education at Departments of Economics in Japanese Universities on Career Formationh (with Junichi Hirata, Junko Urasaka, Tadashi Yagi)
Social System Studies, The Institute of Social System Ritsumeikan University, September 2003, No.7, pp.1-24
¡gThe Role of Mathematics Education in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Mathematics Education in Japan, Japan Society in Mathematical Education, 38-41, 1998

Related Newspaper Articles
¡The Japan Times, April 11, 2006
  
 

Science crisis in the making

Last November I delivered a lecture on complex-system economics at a world-famous institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I also attended a conference on science education in the same city, along with a physicist from Turkey who was visiting there at the time.

The conference, aimed at improving mathematics and physics education in the United States, was organized by David Pines, co-director of the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matters, and attended by university and high-school teachers, writers, directors of science movies, computer engineers and many others. The subject was how to prepare a teaching program on superconductivity for junior-and high-school students.

I spoke of my experiences at the author of a math textbook, gLetfs Study Mathh (not approved by Japanese censors). The idea behind the book ? providing children with a text for self-study - received a favorable response from the audience.

The Turkish physicist Ali Alpar, a professor at a newly established university in Istanbul, reported on education there. According to him, Sabanci University (named after a Turkish businessman) requires humanities students to study math an physics as well. In the case of sciences ? physics, chemistry, biology and geology are organically combined. Generally, the first three subjects are taught in that order over a period of two years. Biology is taught last so that students can learn some of the latest developments in life science, as in genetic engineering and brain science.

All this illustrates that the universityfs founding committee conducted exhaustive discussions to create an educational institution in the true sense of the term. It is eary to imagine that students at Sabanci University are as excellent as those at prestigious universities of long standing.

By contrast, science education in Japan seems approaching a crisis. University students in the humanities have little knowledge of high-school-level sciences. Even some science students have no experience studying physics and biology in high school or lack an ability to make the grade. So universities are left to make up for these shortcomings.

One reason for all this lies in the way that high-school science education is provided. According to a survey by Katsuhiro Arai, professor at Tohoku University, only 12 percent of students complete physics studies (category 2), less than the 16 percent of high-school graduates who enter universitiesf science departments. Those who similarly study math (category 3) represent about 20 percent, about the same percentage as those who enter natural-science departments.

What this means is that many high-school students not good at math take up science and engineering courses at universities. With a large number of students failing to complete studies in physics (category 2) and math (category 3), those who do complete have a relatively low level of scholastic ability.

The waning interest in math and physics is not a new problem. The official responses to his has been to alter the system so that students do not have to study difficult subjects.

To raise Japanfs technological level it is necessary not only to spend more time teaching science-related subjects, but also to increase the number of high-school students attending science classes. By doing so, students interested in science should be motivated to enter science departments. For this to happen, systemic changes are needed so as to make high-school science lessons easier to learn.

At present, the science curriculum is divided into a variety of subjects, such as gbasic sciences,h ggeneral sciences A,h ggeneral sciences B,h gbiology ‡Th and gbiology ‡U.h Since the divisions are largely artificial, study is made unnecessarily difficult.

Science studies in high school will become much easier if only four subjects ? biology, chemistry, physics and geology ? are taught. In face, that was the case in the 1960s, when high-school students learned most of the basics about these subjects.

At Sabanci University, physics, chemistry and biology as well as geology are taught in an integrated manner, incorporating their basic elements. Biology has a fast-developing branch that requires knowledge of physics an chemistry. By the same token, knowledge of biology and geology is essential to an understanding of global environmental problems. Basic to this are chemistry and physics.

Physics should be studied first because it is a more basic and logical branch of science. That should make it easier to understand more applied subjects. That is also an efficient way to study a number of science subjects. At least high schools preparing for university entrance exams, if not all high schools, should provide such guidance.

In the past, as many as 80 percent of high-school students studied gphysics ‡T.h Now, however less than 30 percent complete the course. This is hardly the way to build a technology-oriented nation.

(By KAZUO NISHIMURA)
¡Japan Times, July 7, 2002
  
 

Professor laments decline of academic standards across board

Academic Kazuo Nishimura is convinced that Japan will face devastating consequences if the government continues to dilute the academic curricula of elementary and junior high school students.

Nishimura, a professor at Kyoto Universityfs Institute of Economic Research, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times that the level of understanding required under the latest curricula, introduced in April, is 30 percent lower than under the previous system. This will only lead to a deterioration in the already-low intellectual capabilities of Japanese students, he warned.

A specialist in the field of complex economics, Nishimura cited the dangers stemming from falling academic standards among university students in his 1999 book gBunsu ga dekinai daigakuseih (gUniversity Students Who Cannot Solve Factions).h

He claimed, however, that the situation has only worsened since then. gThis can be attributed to the policy of eeasing educationf put forward by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry and to the introduction of multiple choice exams for university entrance,h he said.

Beginning in 1980, the ministry has been reducing class hours and study courses at elementary and secondary schools. The multiple choice exam format was first introduced at national universities in 1979. Since 1990, private universities have also been allowed to use this exam format, while students across the board have been allowed to choose the subjects featured in their multiple choice tests.

Nishimura noticed a decline in studentsf academic performance around 1985.Moreover, the results of math tests conducted by the professor at several universities in 1998 showed that a considerable number of freshmen, particularly those who did not take math as an entrance exam subject, could not solve simple problems.

He sensed an even sharper drop in 1999, when freshmen who were taught under the second set of revised curricula entered university.

(By KENZO MORIGUCHI, Staff writer)
¡The Nikkei Weekly, March 25, 2002
  
 
School daze

Japanfs education system has been under fire for years, but with new, more lax curriculum guidelines, critics worry students will fall behind their counterparts overseas

Tatsuyqa deguchi, a math teacher at a high school in Wakayama, southwest of Osaka, has watched with growing dismay as his studentsf math ability has plummeted. Especially in the past five to six years, Deguchifs dismay has turned to alarm as the problem has gotten progressively worse.

gRecently we gave our 10th grade students a math test meant for first- to third-graders, and two-thirds of the 240 students couldnft multiply two-digit numbers. Only half could calculate the area of a triangle using the length of the base and the height,g Deguchi said.

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However, the situation will probably get worse because of revised government curriculum guidelines to be introduced this April. The new guidelines continue the more lax education policy, which started in 1977 as a reaction to the cramming-centered system that was believed to be stifling studentsf creativity, so many fundamental skills were removed from textbooks, while 70 study hours, nearly 7% of the annual total, were slashed from public elementary and junior high school curricula.
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Ongoing revision

The government has revised its curriculum guidelines for the compulsory first through ninth grades, every 10 years or so since 1958. Until the mid-1970s, the guidelines were adjusted to enrich the content of education. But in the late 1970s, there was growing public consensus that too much emphasis on passing exams was harmful to childrenfs development and causing stress as a result of the brutal competition for university entrance examinations. Therefore, so-called gpressure-freeh education gained favor and the government started simplifying the content of textbooks to allow students the freedom to develop their individuality.

gThe most important thing is to encourage students to think for themselves, not to cram facts into their heads just to get better scores. To motivate them to study, we consider a fertile sensibility and a healthy body to be crucial,h said Yusuru Imasato, head of curriculum planning at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Imasato explained that the major cuts in the textbooks will help students who cannot keep up with the classes, while enabling teachers to have closer contact with students. In addition, under the new guidelines, despite a major slashing of study hours devoted to existing subjects, some 100 hours will be allocated to gcomprehensive learningh aimed at enabling schoolchildren to have hands-on learning about nature being apart from textbooks.

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Even Japanfs top university professors are strongly criticizing the government curriculum guidelines as gBureaucratic and harmful.h

gThe pressure-free education system is nothing more than bureaucratic talk. The contradictory educational policy has harmed many schoolchildrenfs future and possibility, by taking away their opportunities and eagerness to learn,h said Hirofumi Uzawa, professor emeritus in economics at the University of Tokyo. Uzawa believes the recent drop in the math ability of schoolchildren reflects an educational policy that results in math textbooks that are gless attractiveh for many students by merely showing formulas.

Similarly, Kazuo Nishimura, professor of economics at Kyoto University, sighs over the severe deterioration of math ability among economic majors, especially those who did not take math classes at high school because most top-class private universities do not include mathematics in their entrance examinations.

gAmong those economic majors at top university who didnft take math courses at high school and didnft take a math test in the entrance examinations, more than 20% canft do elementary school level arithmetic, such as addition and subtraction of fractions,h Nishimura said.

The professor pointed out another problem \ Japanese schoolchildren have the fewest study hours for math among the Group of Seven major industrialized countries. For instance, Japanese seventh graders take a total of 99 hours of math classes annually, while U.S. students in the same grade take 146 hours, French students 129 and U.K. students 117.

gIn terms of the volume of content and the difficulty of questions, math textbook for Japanese schoolchildren are two to three years behind the ones used in China, South Korea and Singapore. As long as the government keeps the current pressure-free education system, Japan will inevitably lack the human resources to maintain global competitiveness,h Nishimura said. He stressed the importance of basic ability gained from repeated practice, such as arithmetic and writing, not only for mathematics but for other subjects too.

By the same token, many parents send their children to private schools with unique educational curricula to improve their academic ability, rather than to public schools that have to follow guidelines provided by the government. ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥


(By MINA HASEGAWA, Staff writer)
¡The Daily Yomiuri, January 27, 2000
  
 

Survey: Humanities Students poor at math

About 25 percent of first year students enrolled in humanities courses at leading national and public universities are unable to solve basic mathematical problems involving the four rules of arithmetic and decimal fractions, according to the findings of a survey.

These findings demonstrate that poor mathematical ability among university students is not limited the economics departments of private universities, which do not require candidates to take math for their entrance examinations. Rather, it is becoming common in all departments.

The survey was conducted in April by Kazuo Nishimura, an economic of complexity professor at Kyoto University, and Prof. Nobuyuki Tose, who teaches mathematics at Keio University. It covered the humanities divisions of 11 national and public universities, most of which have their origins as Imperial universities.

About 1,300 first year university students were asked to solve 22 middle-to high-school-level math problems. They were chosen from basic-level questions in the daiken test\a scholastic aptitude test that enables students that pass to sit university entrance examinations without graduating from high school.

To even out and randomize the test subjects, the survey was conducted during classes that are compulsory for all students.

At the top national university in eastern Japan, 73 percent of students solved Question 1 (see chart), a first-year-middle-school-level problem that involves all four fundamental rules of arithmetic and decimal fractions. However, the percentage of correct answers dropped to 33 percent among students who had not taken math in entrance exams.

Question 2, a second-year-middle-school problem that involved a linear equation, was answered correctly by 86 percent of students. Question 3, a third-year-middle-school problem that involves square roots, was solved by 83 percent.

However, the students fared considerably worse on high-school-level problems.

While, 87 percent of the students overall solved Question 4, which involved a quadratic inequality, the ratio dropped to 22 percent among students who had not taken math in the entrance exam.

Results at this university proved that there is a large gap in scores between students who did not take math in the entrance exam and the student body overall. The former group scored only 32 percent on average, while the average for students as a whole was 83 percent.

The same trend has been observed in other national and public universities.

At western Japanfs premier university, 75 percent of students solved Question 1.

Average scores among the 11 schools ranged between 60 to 92 percent at that university.

Nishimura and Tose conducted a similar survey on economic students at private universities in 1998, and concluded that students who had not taken math in entrance exams were generally not strong in the subject.

gThe survey results show that poor mathematical ability is also a problem at national and public universities. Some say that math is not necessary for students in humanities divisions, but I doubt how much logical thinking students can do if they do not a have basic grounding in arithmetic. I think that the three foundation subject: math, Japanese and English, should be made compulsory components of entrance exams.h Nishimura said.



¡The Daily Yomiuri, November 2, 1998
  
 
University students failing in basic mathematics

1 out of 5 pupils unable to solve simple problems

One out of five students at private universities cannot solve questions on mathematics at the primary school level despite being enrolled in courses that require some knowledge of the subject, a survey released Saturday revealed.

The survey results underscored a report issued last month by the University Council, an advisory body to the education minister, that called for entrance examinations to test potential university students on high school subjects relevant to their further education.

The survey covered about 5,000 first-and second-year students, mostly at economics department, of eight state-run universities and 11 private institutions. It was conducted in April by Kyoto University Prof. Kazuo Nishimura.

The students, who encounter math in lectures every day, were asked to solve 25 basic questions on areas of the subject that they had studied before high school.

Of students at one private universityfs economic department, 82 percent of the respondents were able to answer one primary school-level question correctly. The entrance exam for the department does not include a mathematics test.

The students at the second private university did only slightly better, registering a pass rate of 86 percent.

The figure fell for questions at the middle school level, with the two universities registering success rates of 56 percent and 77 percent, respectively.

When tested on quadratic equations taught in the third year of middle school, only 13 percent of students at the former university and 28 percent at the latter could give the correct answer.

gStudents who want to study economics at the university level should at least be tested in mathematics in entrance exams,h Nishimura said.