Japanese University Director of STEM Education Research, Tairo Nomura Shares Formula for Successful STEM Implementation

18 July 2023 ─ Director of STEM Education Research Center, Faculty of Education, Saitama University, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tairo Nomura delivered a presentation on his extensive experience in implementing and analyzing factors for implementing successful STEM education in Japan.

This week from 18 July 2023 to 21 July 2023, SEAMEO STEM-ED organized “Strengthening Teacher Education Programme (STEP) Partners Meeting and Professional Development Design Workshops”, which is a preparation for a steering committee establishment for the STEP initiative. The STEP initiative was created to ultimately mint the most capable teachers throughout Southeast Asian countries by utilizing core practices and training courses.

Prof. Dr. Nomura, who was invited to be a distinguished guest speaker at the event, underlined major components to increase the likelihood of success in STEM implementation comprised of “individual” and “cooperative” ways of learning combined.

Successful cases learned from Japan

Dr. Nomura first cited how Japan perceives STEM and STEAM education, here, he remarked that they are gravely important to national and individual development. He further added this is to the extent of Japanese government making such studies mandatory for every student (from grade 3 to grade 12).

With a strong determination to progress through “society 5.0 (a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space)”, he added the matter of optimization of learning style (for each individual student); and inquiry-based learning (with collaborative or cooperative to connect the youths with society) ─ are the formula to achieving great success in STEM education.

In relation, Prof. Dr. Nomura exampled the case of “Global and Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA)”, which is a national goal of equipping one student with one device ─ to access the internet and digital educational resources. Furthermore, it is at the stage where local governments lend laptops or tablets to students and encourage students to respond to “bring your own device (BYOD)” practice in the classrooms.

Another crucial program pushed forward by Japanese government in 2018 was the “Future Classroom Project.” In this programme, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan, foresaw an everchanging competition in skills development ─ therefore, aiming to pioneer the students to be creative, problem-solving human resources (or changemakers) under the umbrella of “Learning Innovation.”

Prof. Dr. Nomura contributed to the concept that using advanced information and communications technology (ICT) has an immense impact on the learning environment ─ which will evoke digital transformation. Whilst fabrication laboratory (FabLab) can be seen as a recurring theme in Japanese schools, Prof. Nomura remarked he started witnessing artificial intelligence (AI) as a teacher today ─ and that underlying matter to digital society is based upon inquiry-based learning.

He later drew a strong correlation between practical and theoretical in order to implement successful STEM education. “It is important for the teacher community to be established,” he also added that shared experiences among teachers and learning from one another are the force to improve teachers’ competency.

Assessment can never be negligible

Meanwhile, Prof. Dr. Nomura had strongly opined on the topic of STEM contests ─ where he voiced, they can be beneficial to both society and students at the same time. Prof. Dr. Nomura strongly said in response to the concept that the contest presents achievement to society.

What will come after this, is the reexamining of STEM education implementation, he remarked that this will call for clear assessment from society (questions emerged such as does it work and is it useful) ─ while also cultivating individual competency. Furthermore, he concluded his presentation that these matters will reassure the essence of problem-solving skills, decision making and responsibility.

Participants in this session, included STEP project global partners, international policymakers, researchers, and educators.

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