Iwate-Aomori JALT:

University Accreditation in Japan: Problems and Possibilities for EFL Reform

Date: Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 Time: 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Speaker: Bern Mulvey

As of 2004, all universities in Japan must submit to an external accreditation evaluation, to be repeated every seven years. The universities are to receive detailed written assessments in multiple categories from one of the four official accrediting agencies. These assessments are to be publicized. The universities also receive grades: pass, probation, and fail.

MEXT has repeatedly made its intentions clear: Through these new requirements, it hopes to induce systemic improvements in teaching and research quality, not to mention encourage technical upgrades and on-campus diversity. Universities are being prodded into a greater level of transparency, not just in regards to finances and accounting, but in their grading/advising policies and even hiring practices. Safeguards (e.g., procedures to prevent/punish various types of "harassment") for students, staff and faculty have had to be adopted--or clarified/strengthened in the case of universities with policies predating 2004. In other words, at least in theory, university accreditation represents an unparalleled opportunity to achieve meaningful educational reform in this country. However, as is often the case with reform attempts of this scope, the reality is much more complex and, particularly with regards to EFL classes and their (often non Japanese) instructors, troubling.

This paper examines the ramifications of, not to mention the opportunities afforded by, this new policy. I focus particularly on the current problems, e.g., the unrealistic expectations (both of faculty and students), poorly defined outcomes and measurement tools, the resulting Faculty Development 'monster,'etc.) yet address as well the potentially very positive impact on EFL education and educators in Japan.

Dr. Bern Mulvey has published books, articles, poems and essays in English and Japanese, including recent work in Japan Studies Review, Field, Agni, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry East and The Language Teacher, with another article forthcoming this fall in Higher Education Policy. For three years, he was Dean of Faculty at Miyazaki International College, at the time the youngest dean in Japan and one of just three non Japanese to hold this rank at a Japanese university. He is currently an associate professor at Iwate National University.

Organization: Iwate-Aomori Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Iwate-Aomori JALT)

Cost: please see here for details

Venue: Aiina, Morioka, 6th Floor, Room 602

Location: Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan


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Website: iwatejalt.wordpress.com

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