This COURSE GUIDE Appendix includes a summary (from Berger’s 5th ed.) of Stevenson’s work comparing math and science achievement in the US, Japan, and China. The school years are a somewhat different experience for most children growing up in the United States than for children growing up in Pacific-Rim countries. Stevenson’s studies elaborate on these differences in a cross-cultural comparison of education in the United States, Japan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
In his cross-cultural comparison of education in the United States, Japan, and China, Stevenson explores the differences in math and science achievement among students in these countries. This comparison sheds light on the contrasting experiences of children growing up in the United States and Pacific-Rim countries.
Stevenson’s study focuses on the school years, which can be a transformative experience for children. However, it is important to note that the education system in each country plays a significant role in shaping these experiences.
In the United States, the education system is structured to emphasize a broad-based education, with a focus on individuality and the development of critical thinking skills. Students are offered a wide range of subjects and have the opportunity to pursue their interests and passions. This approach allows for flexibility and encourages creativity and innovation. However, it also means that the curriculum is not as focused on specific subjects like math and science.
On the other hand, the education systems in Japan and China follow a more rigid and uniform approach. These systems place a strong emphasis on academic achievement, particularly in math and science. Students in these countries are expected to excel in these subjects and often face intense competition and pressure to perform well. As a result, math and science education receive more attention, with a greater emphasis on rote learning and memorization.
Stevenson’s research reveals significant differences in math and science achievement among students in these three countries. In Japan and China, students consistently outperform their American counterparts in various standardized tests and assessments. This difference in achievement can be attributed to a variety of factors.
One factor contributing to the disparity in performance is the amount of time devoted to math and science education. Students in Japan and China typically spend more time studying these subjects compared to American students. This additional time allows for a deeper understanding of the concepts and more practice in problem-solving. In contrast, American students may not have the same level of exposure or practice in these areas.
Furthermore, the teaching methods employed in these countries also differ. In Japan and China, there tends to be a greater emphasis on direct instruction and memorization. Teachers play a central role in imparting knowledge and students are expected to absorb and reproduce information accurately. In the United States, however, there is a greater emphasis on student-centered learning and critical thinking. Students are encouraged to explore and discover knowledge on their own, which may result in a deeper understanding but less mastery of specific subject matter.
Cultural factors also come into play. In Japanese and Chinese societies, there is a strong cultural value placed on education and academic achievement. Parents and teachers often have high expectations for their children’s performance in school and provide strong support and guidance. In the United States, there tends to be more emphasis on individuality and personal development. While education is still valued, the focus is often on a broader range of skills and experiences, rather than solely on academic achievement.
These differences in education systems, teaching methods, and cultural values contribute to the variation in math and science achievement among students in the United States, Japan, and China. Stevenson’s research further highlights the need to consider these factors when examining educational outcomes and developing effective teaching strategies. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each system, educators and policymakers can work towards creating more equitable and effective educational experiences for students.
In conclusion, Stevenson’s cross-cultural comparison of education in the United States, Japan, and China sheds light on the differences in math and science achievement. The distinct education systems, teaching methods, and cultural values in these countries contribute to the variation in student performance. By understanding these factors, educators can strive for a more balanced and effective education system that fosters both academic achievement and critical thinking skills.