Japan Report of Educator Effectiveness

Shared Definition of Effective Teaching in Japan

Teachers play an important role in the quality of a country’s education system. Research shows that teachers are the most important school-based factor in student learning.

For decades, Japan has been regarded as a model for education excellence due to consistently high student achievement on international tests.

However, Japan still faces challenges developing its teaching workforce, such as:

  • Low teacher self-efficacy and lack of perceived value of the teaching profession
  • Training on how to use information and communications technology and lack of access to professional development opportunities in general
  • Longer work hours than other countries
  • Large class sizes

Giving education stakeholders—parents, students, teachers, principals, policymakers and education researchers—a voice not only creates a common understanding how they think and feel about a topic; it provides an opportunity to help frame important policy decisions that directly impact their lives.

What does it mean to be an effective teacher? Pearson asked students, parents, teachers, principals, policymakers and education researchers in Japan what they thought.

Top 10 most important qualities of teachers in Japan:

  1. Ability to Develop Trusting, Productive Relationships
  2. Professionalism
  3. Knowledge of Learners
  4. Ability to Make Ideas and Content Clear
  5. Patient, Caring, Kind Personality
  6. Dedication to Teaching
  7. Classroom Management
  8. Subject Matter Knowledge
  9. Engaging Students in Learning
  10. Teaching Skills/Pedagogical Practices

Importance of Care and Character

It is notable that the all surveyed stakeholders value teacher dispositions of care and character along with teaching-specific knowledge and skills with remarkable consistency. The importance of these dispositions may reflect an underlying belief that without them, a teacher’s subject matter knowledge and pedagogical skills will do little to help students learn and succeed.

The emphasis of Japanese education stakeholders on the ability of teachers to build productive, trusting relationships and serve as a mentor with students, suggests important areas for teacher preparation, professional growth, and evaluation.

What surprised us is that few education professionals, like teachers, principals and researchers, cited factors that are well known to make teachers effective. For example, we thought we would see more mention of the importance of using assessment to personalize learning, yet less than one percent of educators’ responses referred to this.

Sparking Policy Discussions

This study offers an opportunity for Japan to evaluate teacher effectiveness policies and the impact on the quality of the teaching workforce. The results can inform discussions about teacher preparation, hiring, training, and evaluation, particularly in light of the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) results showing that Japanese teachers have a lower sense of self-efficacy and perceived value of their work than average.

Ultimately, the survey results reaffirm the notion that, at its foundation, learning is a social enterprise, and effective teaching is about trusting relationships between teachers and learners that foster learner success, as these communities define it.