Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (2007). Education Indicator 2003 – 2007. Phnom Penh: MoEY.
Pellini, A. (2005). Decentralisation of education in Cambodia: searching for spaces of participation between traditions and modernity. Compare, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 205-216.
Pich, S. (1997). Educational destruction and reconstruction in Cambodia (p. 43-49) in Educational Destruction and Reconstruction in Disrupted Societies. UNESCO.
UNESCO (2008). State of Teacher Education in the Asia-Pacific Region. UNESCO.
Word Bank (2008). Retrieved 24 July, 2008, from http://ddp-ext.worldbank.org/ext/DDPQQ/showReport.do?method=showReport
- Educational Perspective: MEXT is the only one who plans and decides everything including policy, curriculum, programs and funds (Fujimori, 1999; MEXT).
- Society Perspective: Japan is an “education credentialism” society, which success and access to a top-ranked university is a one-time opportunity and life-time success determined by entrance exam.
- Economic Perspective: The major business companies tend to employ those are from famous universities; thus, the university that a student attends is most often the sole criterion that employers consider in their decision to hire a potential candidate (Asianinfo, 2000; Bossy, 2000).
Subsequently, the university entrance exam is a determinant of future success, status, and welfare of Japanese youngsters.
2. A Curse
This provokes pressure for students.
- Pressure from the Society: Not all students pass the university entrance exam; 5 students competed for every one opening in national universities, 9.7 students competed for every one opening in public universities, and 10.6 students competed for every one opening in private universities (JMOE, 1994).
- Pressure from Parents: Achievement of children is one foremost priority of the family goals. Investment in their children's' education is a very high priority for Japanese parents. Educational expenses such as juku, private tutors, and related materials account for 15.8 percent of consumer spending by Japanese households, more than 5 times that spent in the United States (Japan Times, September 18, 1994, p. 3). In return, studying hard and obtaining higher grades is a must. Academic success rewards families with fame, high social status, economic security and honor, while failure means low family status, economic hardship, and family shame.
- Pressure from Teachers: Teachers, getting trust, praise and priority from parents, discharge an enormous influence on students; and some even go too far. Teachers closely scrutinize whatever students do; students are under the thumb of teachers who do whatever it takes, including physical and sexual abuse. Some students fear teachers.
- Pressure from Peers: Students who are outstanding are not looked up to; in return, they would become strangers. It is difficult for students to restrict their own performance. Moreover, many other students will do whatever that guarantees their success to university; some, hoping that it will disturb other from studying, physically intimidate the brighter ones.
As a result, a side effect of all this competition is severe stress that comes out by bullying, violence and "allergies to school". The bullying and violence are the causes of suicide and murder in the junior and high schools across Japan (Asianinfo, 2000; Mori, 2002).
Free time is lost by exam preparation—even elementary school children always return home after 10 o`clock at night (Random, 1985, MEXT). Thirty nine percent of public elementary school students, 75 percent of public middle school students, and 38 percent of public high school students attend juku (MEXT, quoted in Japan Time, 28 July, 2005).
Additionally, students feel exhausted. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare White Paper recently stated: Upon examining the daily schedule for elementary and middle school students, we find that the average weekday time used for school work and commuting to school is 8 hours and 15 minutes for elementary school students and 10 hours and 10 minutes for middle school students. Excluding sleep time, these figures amount to 54.0 and 62.096 of their daily schedules. In other words, more than half of their daily schedules are devoted to school work. (See more detail at MEXT statistics about Daily Study Hours of Students). A survey has shown that 27% of elementary school students and 64% of junior high school children feel fatigue in their daily lives.
This will prevent students from growing up with sound mind. It is against the Japanese Constitution, Chapter III: Rights and Duties of People.
Article 13: All of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs.
In short, the psychological impact of the pressures that students have to endure at home, in school and in the society is great. It is also what drives many to uncharacteristic violent behavior, and even suicide. For many, the load is too heavy. One eighteen-year-old boy wrote:
I thank you for taking care of me for a long time. I have been in a slump the past month and did not study. I don't know why, but I am not in the mood to study. It is impossible in this condition to pass the entrance examination, which is coming in about a month. I gave up hope of passing the examination. I give up. I have decided to die. (Iga, 1986, p. 39)
The status difference among top-ranked universities is enough to cause students to commit suicide. A paragraph from a suicide note written by a Kyoto university student reads:
The only significance of life is to enter Tokyo University, which is the best in Japan. When I entered Kyoto University, students and professors here looked so inferior to those in Tokyo. The fact that I entered this university worsened my nervous condition, contrary to my mother's expectations. I could not be proud of being a student here. (Iga, 1986, p. 41)
The latest NPA data confirm that suicide by elementary- and middle-school students is a serious social problem. The suicide rate for this group rose by a massive 57.6%, representing a total of 93 innocent lives lost, 34 more than in 2002. Among high-school students there was also a sharp rise of 29.3%. In total, 225 young lives were lost in this category. There was also an increase in the number of college students killing themselves. The overall suicide rate among people aged 19 or younger rose by 22%. (Curtin, 2004). (For more detail of suicide rate, see WHO statistics).
3. Reasons and Suggestions to Remedy
Reasons to Remedy
The Japanese educational system places all its eggs in one basket-the university entrance examination. (Bossy, 2000).
According to Amano (1994), the entrance examination and secondary education is not well matched because Japanese higher education was instituted at the end of the 1860s to train high-class civil servants to catch up with Western countries. (quoted in Mori, 2002).
While the exam could not assess students` abilities in analysis; synthesis; creativity; and critical thinking skill, another criticism against this exam is that too much influence from the industry which over-put evil emphasis on university ranking.
Suggestions to Remedy
Diversification of admissions criteria: modify the questions in the test, conduct interview and selecting based on recommendation from teachers.
The power to decide curricula and content should be transferred from the Ministry to private schools and local governments to enhance democratization of education so that schools and local governments can pursuit for better education on their own initiatives. This will provide a variety of educational values reducing competition among students, and lessening the centralized competition of the past (Fujimori, 1999).
"The nation's schools and workplaces need to demonstrate more willingness to educate and openly discuss issues like stress and depression, which often lead to suicide." (Asia Times)
Who is to blame? It can be seen that parents, though sacrifice much for the sake of children` education and success in life, may not perceive the harm that they expose on them. On the other hand, they may know, but they believe that there is no choice. Teachers also incite pressure for their students. However, Japanese society and culture are perhaps the most responsible for this kind of incident and pressure.
The problems have been found and are to be tackled by the Japan herself, namely MEXT, though, it takes time.
- Asianinfo, (2000). Japanese Education and Literacy. Asianinfo. Retrieved 11 July, 2008, from http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/japan/education_literacy.htm#ISSUES%20IN%20JAPANESE%20EDUCATION
- Bossy, S. (2000, winter). Academic pressure and impact on Japanese students. McGill Journal of Education. Retrieved 12 July, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3965/is_200001/ai_n8894769
- Concar, D. (1993, October 02). Examination hell: Britain wants its schools to be more like those of Japan - competitive, conservative and uniform. But Japan has its own problems. New Scientist Magazine, Issue: 1893.
- Curtin, J. S. (2004). Suicide also rises in land of rising sun. Asia Time Online. Retrieved 13 July, 2008, from http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/FG28Dh01.html
- Fujimori, S. (1999). What causes examination wars in Japan? Retrieved 11 July, 2008, from http://www141.sannet.ne.jp/juken/e-index.htm
- Iga, M. (1986). The thorn in the chrysanthemum. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Japanese Ministry of Education (JMOE) (1995). Educational issues of disciplining students and the Ministry's countermeasures. Tokyo.
- Japanese Ministry of Education (JMOE) (1994). Educational issues of disciplining students and the Ministry's countermeasures. Tokyo.
- Lee, D. (2004). What is the fate of examination hell in Japan? Retrieved 11 July, 2008, from http://uniorb.com/ATREND/JExam.html
- Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, (2006). School Education, Tokyo.
- Mori, R. (2002). Entrance examinations and remedial education in Japanese higher education. Higher Education, 43: 27-42.
- Random, S. (1985). Schooling in Japan: The paradox in the pattern. Education Week, February 20. Cited in Ogura, Y. (1987). Examination hell: Japanese education's most serious problem. The College Board Review, (144), 8-11, 26-30.
- Sato, M. (Thursday, July 28, 2005). Cram school cash in on failure of public schools. Japan Times,
- The Constitution of Japan (1946). The Constitution of Japan. Japan.
- WHO: http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/
- Yoshida, R. (2001, Fall). Intense Years: How Japanese adolescents balance school, family and friends. McGill Journal of Education. Retrieved 12 July, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3965/is_200110/ai_n8959360?tag=artBody;col1
 Life and study survey by the Nagano prefectural education committee, February 1996.
Cambodia has been facing many crises, including natural disasters, population growth, poverty, illiteracy, diseases, and suburb-urban disparities. These crises are mainly consequences caused by negative impacts from the country past history (Neau, 2004). For instance, during the Democratic Kampuchea or so-called Pol Pot regime (April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979), Cambodia was in year zero (Ponchaud, 1978). Everything including education, economy, religion, infrastructure was complete destroyed.
These social and economic issues are enormous to be solved at once with one solution. But, one of the main solutions to these is education, which involves with all kind of people in the life-long learning; without education, Cambodia finds it hard to stand in an international arena. However, Cambodian education per se has also undergone critically dark period so far. Educational quality, facility, qualified teachers, curriculum, as well as school attrition rates are out of doubt (Pak, 2001).
Recently, many school buildings have been built and restored; educators at all levels have been and have trained. These have been done under the donation and financial support of national and international organizations and institution. Yet, despite this much effort, one main problem among others still needs solution badly.
This problem clearly results in dropout of school of children as Pok (cited in Barton and Sam, 2006) said that, “teachers taking money from students is also another key reason causing children to drop out of schools.” Teachers financially are in crisis to get survival; thus they are forced to betray their professionalism and conscience; they have to ask extra money from their pupils, besides taking official teaching time to work a second or third job. This ‘informal fee’ has leaded many pupils to quit class. This point of this case can be seen from an example of a girl named Pich Dy, living in Sangkat Chbar Ampov (Phon Penh); “The teacher asked me to stand up, … sometimes I was ordered to stand up for 30 minutes, because I did not have money” (Launey, 2007). Finally, at the age of 14, she was forced to drop out of school and it is unlikely that she can return to school back (Launey, 2007).
One anonymous teacher in Phnom Penh also said that the salary is not enough to pay for electricity or water basically, let alone on anything else (Launey, 2007). She also added that her colleagues and she took money from students for the test papers, course materials, or simply for attending the class. Likewise, another case from teacher’s side can be heard from another teacher in Kandal province. His extra income came from driving a motor taxi and he thought that ‘informal fee’ is as simple as a matter of survival (Launey, 2007).
This story happens in Phnom Penh city and it is no doubt that this will happen in all poor community all over Cambodia. This demanding for ‘informal fee’ is forcing Cambodian children to drop out of school because their parents cannot afford to pay.
One of the solutions to this problem is likely to be the enough amount of salary for the teachers. Rung, a president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, believes that the quality of education as a whole will be improved if teacher’s salary is increased (Barton and Sam, 2006). If the teachers can survive with their salary, ‘informal fee’ will not be implemented. Therefore, the salary should be increased to a certain level that can be enough to pay for the expenditure. Teacher salaries are set to increase 15 percent annually, but the increases are hardly enough. According to Cheang (2008), at present, the primary school teachers are paid about 140,000 riel ($35) a month, lower secondary teachers get 200,000 riel ($50), and upper secondary teachers 240,000 ($60), while Vietnamese teachers get 150 US$ and Thai teachers get 200 US$ (KI MEDIA, 2006). However, teachers still find it hard to survive with this amount of salary due to the increasing price of goods in the market. So what is needed more?
The answer is international cooperation. Even though Cambodia has already depended on overseas assistance technically and financially for about half of the national budget, it is high likely believed that the best way is to raise teacher’s pay. It is high probable that if the pay is high, the teachers may not ask for extra money from their pupils; then the dropout rate might decrease; the quality of teaching and learning might be assured. The fact can be seen in a case of one school in Prey Veng province, Cambodia. There, a Japan family has helped improved the teaching and learning condition, and teachers in particular, by paying extra money more for teachers. Obviously, we acknowledge that this kind of assistance will help only in a short period of time. However, in the mean time, it is really a great remedy for this problem; that is “something is better than nothing” (IICD, 2007).
Therefore, beyond the provision of extra pay, the donors can provide the training too in order to guarantee the sustainability of the development and improvement. Another way which international cooperation can help is that the assistance can be used to conduct a weekly or monthly training workshop or seminar on capacity building which is useful in their profession including the mastery subject and pedagogical skills. From this, the teachers can not only get extra pay but also increase their knowledge and skills useful for their career and quality of education as a whole. Teachers are willing to join and they said they just wait to be called for workshop or training (Neau, 2004). This case in point can be seen in some international projects such as The Flemish Association for Development Co-Operation and Technical Assistance (Belgium), Agdar University College (Kristiansand, Norway), and Belgian Technical Cooperation (Provincial Teacher Training College Siem Reap, 2005). One component of these projects, though in different educational levels, ecologies, or setting, is to build teacher capacity. These are just a few examples only, not mentioning about JICA, whose assistance is tremendous in terms of fund. In short, besides guaranteeing the sustainability of capacity development, this kind of international cooperation is an urgent need for Cambodian education, particularly teachers at all levels.
As it has been mentioned above, in the mean time, through international cooperation, what can effectively contribute to solve the problem of teacher salary is to go to the place directly and immediately take action. The two suggested solutions, which are to pay for the teachers more and at the same time to train them both in content and pedagogical skills, will possibly be the effective remedy to this problem. However, to solve this problem more effectively and sooner, it actually needs not only international cooperation, but also national cooperation and the contribution from all kinds of institutions and people concerned. This process is challenging one and will not be achieved overnight, but will be a long-time effort, based on mutual and continual understanding, trust, respect and support.
Barton, C, Sam, R (Jul, 28 - Aug, 10, 2006) Corruption and poverty get school dropout blame। Phnom Penh Post. 15/15. Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://phnompenhpost.com/%20TXT/current/stories/1515/corrup.htm.
Cheang, S. (December 14 – 28, 2007A). ADB approves $27 million secondary education grant. Phnom Penh Post. 16/25. Retrieved February 20, 2008, from http://sroeu.wordpress.com/category/adb/
Chhin, S. (2007). Developing Graduate Programs in Teacher Education: The Royal University of Phnom Penh, Paper Presented at UNESCO-APEID Hiroshima Seminar on “Innovation and Reform in Teacher Education in Asia and Pacific Region”, Hiroshima University, Japan, 4-9 December, 2007.
Dy, S. S. (2005) Basic Education For All in Cambodia: Policies and Strategies for Quality Improvement. Doctor Dissertation, Hiroshima, Hiroshima University.
Dy, S. S., and Ninomiya, A. (2003, December 18). Basic Education in Cambodia: The impact of UNESCO on policies in the 1990s, Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11(48). Retrieved [Date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n48/.
Institute for International Cooperation and Development. (2007). Something Is Better Than Nothing. Retrieved January 18, 2007, from (http://www.iicd-volunteer.org/page_view.%20php?page=482&title=Something%20Is%20Better%20Than%20Nothing.
KI MEDIA (2006). Rong Chhun: The Teachers’ Voice. KI MEDIA, Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://ki-media.blogspot.com/2006/12/rong-chhun-teachers-voice.html.
Knight, K., & MacLeod, K. (2004). Education for all in Cambodia: Teacher status, social dialogue and the education sector. International Labor Office Publications. Retrieved January 18, 2008 from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/papers/educa- tion/teachers-voices.pdf.
Neau, V. (2004). Ongoing Professional Development for In-service Cambodian Teachers of English in Secondary Schools: Contemporary Issues, Needs, and Future Direction, Doctor Dissertation, Hiroshima, Hiroshima University.
Pak, Th. (2001). Cambodia in the 21st Century: In Quest of World Class Development, Democracy, and Education, Doctor Dissertation, Ann Arbor: Fielding Graduate Institutes.
Provincial Teacher Training College Siem Reap (2005). Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://www.pttcsrp.com/coop_eng.html.
I. Preestablished Instruments and Archival Data
- data: numerical (attendance rate), verbal (interview transcript) and graphic (picture
- types of data: preestablished and self-developed
Preestablished instruments---standardized: already- made or piloted measuring tools including tests, observational rating scales, questionnaires or scoring protocols for interviews.
- Standardized instruments characteristics:
● a fixed set of questions or stimuli; fixed time frame, fixed set of instruction and identified responses; measures specific outcomes and is subjected to extensive research development and review;
● performance can be compared to a referent such as a norm group, a standard or criterion, or an individual’s own performance
> Norm-referenced tests: comparing student’s performance with that of a norm group (eg. TOEFL)
> Criterion-referenced tests: comparing against a predetermined standard of performance
> Self-referenced tests: measuring an individual student’s performance over time to see if it improves or declines when compared with past performance.
- Five Types of Preestablished measures: achievement, aptitude, personality, attitude or interest, behaviors.
1. achievement tests—measuring what has already been learnt
2. aptitude tests—predicting what one can do or how one will perform in the future
3. personality tests—measuring self-perception or personal characteristics, traits, or behaviors
4. attitude or interest scale—assessing attitude toward a topic or interests in areas
5. behavior rating scales—making diagnoses of problems, frequency or intensity of behavior
Archival data: have already been collected by individual teacher, school, or district rather than by a researcher. Examples of archival data are student absenteeism, graduation rates, suspensions, standardized state test scores, and teacher grade-book data.
II. Scales of Measurement
Specifically, there are 4 types of variables that can be measured quantitatively, and these are called levels or scales of measurement.
● Nominal scales—measuring variables that are categorical or classes.
● Ordinal scales—numberings of different levels or ranks. The distance is not equal; this limits the types of statistical tests that can be applied to the data and also limits the conclusions about differences between persons at different ranks.
● Interval scales—numberings of different level in which the distances, or intervals, between the levels are equal. It is absent of true zero score, in this case to say that a score of zero means the absence of something is not totally accurate.
● Ratio scales—(considered producing the most precise data) including the properties of nominal, ordinal, and interval and also include a true zero point.
III. Summarizing Data Using Descriptive Statistics
Descriptive statistics: to show the patterns in the data.
- distribution: describe the range of scores and their overall frequencies. Scores may also be displayed in a graph. For ordinal scale of measurement of data, they are usually connected by a line, and the graph is referred to as a frequency polygon. If categorical, the graph is called histogram.
> a Normal distribution—looks like a bell-shaped and symmetrical, with the highest point on the curve and most frequent scores clustered in the middle of the distribution: when large groups are randomly sampled and measured.
> Skewed distributions: asymmetrical, meaning the scores are distributed differently at the two ends. – a negatively skewed distribution—most of the scores are high, but there are a small number of scores that are low.
+ a positively skewed distribution—most of the scores are low, but there are a small number of scores that high (Fig. 4.3, p. 78).
- The “outlier” in a skewed distribution pull the “tail” of the distribution out in that direction.
> Bimodal distributions have two clusters of frequent scores as the two humps in the distribution (Fig. 4.4, p. 79).
What is a Typical or Average Score? Measures of Central Tendency
Three common measures are the mode, mean, and median.
Mode: the score occurring most frequently. If the distribution is asymmetrical, the mode may not be a precise estimate of central tendency.
Mean: arithmetical average of a set of scores. In a skewed distribution, the mean can be misleading.
Median: the score that divides a distribution exactly in half when scores are arranged from the highest to the lowest. It is a stable measure of the central tendency of a set of scores although there are a few outlier scores in a distribution that are much different from the rest.
Measures of Variability
1. Range: the difference between the highest and lowest scores in a distribution. It is not a stable or precise measure of variability because it can be affected by a change in just one score.
2. Standard Deviation: is the average distance between each of the scores in a distribution and the mean. One way to describe variability is to consider how far each score is from that center score. It is called standard deviation because it represents the average amount by which the scores deviate from a mean. The larger the number, the more variable are the scores in the distribution (Fig. 4.5, p. 82). The standard deviation is widely used in part because of its relationship to the normal distribution, visually represented as the normal curve displayed in Fig. 4.6, which forms the basis for comparing individual scores with those of a larger group.
3. Normal Curve: One useful feature of normal curve is that a certain percentage of scores always falls between the mean and certain distances above and below the mean. These distances are described as how many standard deviations above or below the mean a score falls.
Types of Scores Used to Compare Performance
Raw scores: one cannot know what a raw score represents without knowing more about the mean and standard deviation of the distribution of scores.
Percentile ranks: are scores that indicate the percentage of persons scoring at or below a given score. So a percentile rank of 82% means that 82% of persons scored below that score.
Standard scores: telling how far a score is from the mean of distribution in terms of standard deviation units. Examples of standard scores are Z scores and college entrance exams (Fig. 4.6).
Z SCORE = (SCORE – MEAN)/STANDARD DEVIATION
Stanines: stanine scores are a type of standard score that divides a distribution into nine parts, each of which includes about one half of a standard deviation.
Percentage: Some types of data may be distorted when percentages are used. One should always examine both the total number and the percentage of persons when comparing measures.
Grade-Equivalent Scores: A grade-equivalent score is reported in years and months. So 3.4 means third grade, fourth month. A grade-equivalent score reports the grade placement for which that score would be considered average. This means that the average student at the reported grade level could be expected to get a similar score on this test.
Use of Correlation Coefficients in Evaluating Measure
Correlations: measures of the relationship between two variables. A correlational relationship is summarized using a descriptive statistic called a correlation coefficient. Regardless of sign (- / +), the size of the number shows how strong the relationship is between the variables.
- A positive correlation coefficient: one variable increases, the other also increases.
- A negative correlation coefficient: one variable increases, the other decreases.
VI. Evaluating the Quality of Education Measures: Reliability and Validity
Reliability: the consistency of scores—obtaining approximately the same score
Validity: what the instrument “claims” to measure is truly what it is measuring—accuracy
- Even the most reliable test would not produce the exact same score. This difference is referred to measurement error. Factors that affect reliability include personal characteristics, variations in test setting, in administration and scoring of the test and in participant responses due to guessing.
- Standard error of measurement: SEM = SD √1 - r For example: SEM= 2.7, Observed score= 70, means that the student who received a score of 70 might score 2.7 points higher or lower if s/he retook the test.
- Stability or Test-Retest Reliability (Consistency across time): an average wait time of four or six weeks.
- Equivalent-Form Reliability (Consistency across form)
- Internal Consistency Reliability (Consistency within the instrument): the common method is through split-half reliability. Then Spearman-Brown prophecy formula is applied—the instrument must be long enough. Another approach is to examine the correlations between each item and the overall score on the instrument—a given score consistently measures the same amount of knowledge.
Does the instrument measure what it is designed to measure? So when constructing a test or using a standardized instrument, validity is the single most important characteristic.
- Content Validity:
1. sampling validity
2. content validity: involving examining each individual item to determine if it measures the content area.
- Criterion-Related Validity: examining a relationship of each measure. It reflects the degree to which two scores on two different measures are correlated.
1. concurrent validity: examines the degree to which one test correlates with another taken in the same time frame (the new and the old test produce similar result).
2. predictive validity: used to predict the future. After 1st time testing, waiting for a while, then if the correlation is high between the 1st test result and the next, then the 1st test is considered to have criterion-related validity in predicting future success.
- Construct Validity: involves a search for evidence that an instrument is accurately measuring an abstract trait or ability. Constructs are traits that are derived from variables and are nonobservable. Construct validity might include aspects of content, concurrent and predictive validity. Some questions might be involved in establishing construct validity:
> Does the measure clearly define the meaning of the construct?
> Can the measure be analyzed into component parts or processes that are appropriate to the construct?
> Is the instrument related to other measures of similar constructs, and is it not related to instruments measuring things that are different?
> Can the measure discriminate between (or identify separately) groups that are known to differ?
Finding Preestablished Measures
One source that many researchers use is the Mental Measurement Year-book (MMY) (Box 4.3. Web Sites with information on Preestablished, Standardized Tests, p. 97).
Criteria for Selecting Preestablished Instruments
A particular instrument may have a high degree of reliability and validity, but for a variety of reasons, it may not be suitable for the population you intend to study. Also, a researcher should examine past study to see what specific instruments other researchers in similar areas have employed. Finally, do not settle for the first measure that you find.
Reliability and Validity in Archival Data
It is important to consider possible inaccuracies that the data may contain. A researcher should validate or double-check the raw data. The researcher might conduct interviews with the individuals who originally collected the data. The researcher would also want to examine the instruments used to collect the data and any information about their piloting and administration. Another method for collecting the data should be employed too.
In this study, trying to examine the choice of complement after the noun ‘opinion’, besides the study of the occurrence this noun, is the main aim of the researcher. To be more precise, the study tries to answer the question what kind of complement choice after ‘opinion’ made be the writers across the three-level essays composed of 82 (Low (25), Mid (29), and High (28)).
To answer this question, AntConc software is used; the incidence of ‘opinion’ is recorded across the three-level essays; then, whether and what complement after ‘opinion’ is used will be examined.
The occurrence of the noun ‘opinion’ was calculated. In Table 1 below, the result of the noun ‘opinion’ in the Low, Mid and High is presented. The frequency of the noun ‘opinion’ in the Low is 0.51% (n = 23); in the Mid, 0.46% (n = 27); and in the High, 0.53% (n = 30). It can be seen that the distribution of the noun ‘opinion’ among these three-level writer shows no significance fluctuation, when they get to higher level.
The Frequency of ‘opinion’ in the Mid, Low and High
Low Mid High Total
F per 4477 F per 5828 F per 5643 F per 15948
Opinion 23 .51% 27 .46% 30 .53% 80 .50%
The figures in this table are rounded off to the first two decimals.
* F means Frequency
To further comment, it is worth noting that, based on Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, two main kinds of complement after the noun ‘opinion’ are prepositional phrases (about/on) and that-clause. From the analysis, it is so remarkable that the three-level writers do not use any prepositional phrases as a complement after ‘opinion’ at all, except several that-clauses. Table 2 below shows how frequent that-clauses are across the three-level essays.
As can be seen from Table 2, the highest choice of that-clause as a complement after ‘opinion’ is in the Low—17.39% (n = 4), followed by the Mid—14.81% (n = 4) and the High—10% (n = 3). From this, it can be explained that the Low to use more complements, specifically that-clause, after the noun ‘opinion’ than the others. Also, when they get higher they tend to reduce this complementizer.
In brief, no matter how frequently the noun ‘opinion’ is used, there is no significance difference among the three-level students. Furthermore, it is so surprising for they do not use prepositional phrases as a complement after the noun ‘opinion’, but a number of that-clauses instead, which among these three-level writers, the lower use the most and the higher use the least.
Complement after ‘Opinion’
Low Mid High
F per 23 F per 27 F per 30
That-clause 4 17.39% 4 14.81% 3 10%
Prepositional phrase 0 0 0
The figures in this table are rounded off to the first two decimals.
* F means Frequency
100.000 foreign students in 21st century is a number expected by Japan in Higher Education setting, through government and private scholarships. Though there were only 75.800 foreign students as by 2002 (Badamsambuu, 2002), the number of foreign students has been increasing remarkably. At Graduate school of International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, over 60 percent of the students are foreigners. These foreign students are seen as the setting the educational pace for the rest of Japanese. However, taking a close look, it will be seen that some nationals (students of a nation) are not doing well as others. This may be true for Cambodian students at Hiroshima University and other universities as well.
The aim of this paper is to discover why it is that Cambodian students are not as academically successful as others. In order to answer to this question, several factors should be examined: historical and educational background, culture, family, language, and mental and physical health.
2- Historical and Educational Background
Tracing back and starting from the genocidal regime, the Cambodians had to live through the ‘killing field’, from 1975-1979, when Cambodia was under the Democratic Kampuchea, ruling by Khmer Rouge. Economy, education system, building, infrastructure were completely destroyed. Educated people were killed (about 2 millions); people, including family members were killed or tortured in front of one another. Those who survived had been living through starvation, pain and suffering. This caused Cambodians, young eligible for schooling in particular, to miss out their educational opportunities during and after that tragedy period. Moreover, education system of Cambodia nowadays has been worse, though in many respects, it has improved. The clear point in this is teacher’s demand for ‘informal fees’ from the students (Launey, 2007); this forces some students who cannot afford to drop out of class. This has been one of the obstacles for Cambodian children getting proper education, let alone studying English language.
Before civil war, Cambodia adopted French education system in which students had to pass exams in order to be promoted to the next grade. However, Cambodian students’ education was disrupted in many points. The educational system was completely devastated by Khmer Rouge when they took power. The Khmer Rouge killed the one who was educated. The only education provided at that time was only learning the time tables by memorizing and learning the Khmer Rouge’s ideals of citizenship. For the Khmer Rouge, education was the damage to its revolution. (Pak, 2001)
From 1975-1979, the children practically learned nothing about reading or writing (Khmer). In some areas, schools were not available for over 10 years. Cambodian children/students, thus, had no enough time to adjust themselves to a formal school structure in such a short period.
The Japanese school system is a new experience for them, not just because of the new language, but also there are multiple subjects to learn. Moreover, students have to be responsible for their own learning not like at lower level which students waited in the class for the teacher to come to teach and there is only one teacher for all subjects. The habit that teacher is the knowledge-giver and student is the receiver does not establish the critical thinking skills of the students. This system does not allow students to ask or create questions; this does not only make their creative thwart but also affect their interpersonal skills and relationship negatively (Pak, 201). This kind of negative experiences made them disadvantageous when entering the Japanese education system. This event is paralleled with event faced by foreign students of the University of the Ryukyu. 31.2% of 134 foreign students found the unfamiliarity with Japanese study methods one of the problems causing stress in their lives, and academic in particular (Randall, M., Naka, K., Yamamoto, K. Nakamoto, H., Arakaki, H., and Ogura, C., 1998).
Cambodian people/students do not like competition nor cooperation (Pak, 2001). However, at university level, in order to achieve good result, and some time to be accepted in idea, students have to fight against each other in ideas and/or to compete. By this, Cambodian students find it hard to adapt and adjust.
The same study by Randall et al. (1998) shows that culture is also one of significant causing problems for foreign students. In Cambodian culture, value and respect are given to high educated people. Particularly teachers receive great respect. Educating children responsibility is given to the teacher, even though the ultimate responsibility is on the children. Also, Cambodian culture believes that people are born with innate talent and disposition. Their success at school and in life is believed to be predetermined by these inborn abilities, therefore this belief makes parents hesitate in pushing their children in school. As a result, students are not so aggressive in studying that when facing with little obstacles they are likely not to pursue their study more. However, the Japanese school system is a competitive one, which students will be graded according to the performance. This system presents the obstacle to Cambodian students. During the sessions, though they know or have ideas to share, Cambodian students feel so shy that they will not talk unless they are asked or ordered to do so.
Generally, student education does not depend on only the students themselves, teachers, or parents individually, but is a collective effort of individuals and family. Cambodian family-student interaction can be said superficial. Cambodian parents do/dare not push their children against their own interest and desire. Rather than put pressure on children to excel in education, parents tend to give advice and guidance only even though they may have high aspiration for the children. Whether single- or couple- parent family, this may also influence on the performance of the children. In 1990, percentage of Cambodian families that were survival together was 50% (Zhou, 1997). During Pol Pot regime, many Cambodian family spouses were killed, as a consequence, there has a high percentage of single-parent family. Raising children has become heavier burden for the family, let alone setting a role model for their children. Therefore, Cambodian children are lack of modality which they should look up to. A study by a sociologist, Zhou (1997), shows that couple-family provide better psychological environment, higher level of academic performance, and stronger educational aspirations than those in single-parent families. In short, lack of family modality, encouragement, and couple-parent may be the hinder in their academic pursuit, which may thus lead to lower performance level in their study.
English is used as a medium of instruction at universities in Japan, at Hiroshima University in particular. Students must be English proficiency if they are to achieve academic success, needless to say about comprehension in the courses. Linguistically, it is believed that ‘sink or swim’, where the students are totally submerged in English in the classroom and have to learn on their own (Zhou, 1997). Students may find it hard to keep up and may be frustrated by not being able to understand or express themselves in the classroom. This language handicap is likely to be a considerable factor in preventing the success. It is even worse if the course inevitably attended by the students is conducted in Japanese language. Relating with Japanese language, those who possess high proficiency level of the language find studying and living in Japan more motivated, enjoyable and convenient than those who do not possess the language; as a consequence, they also study Japanese at the same time. Linguistically, Japanese is completely different from English, and Khmer specifically for several main points. To be more precise, the characters of the letters, grammar systems and even the syntaxes of both Japanese and Khmer are so different that Cambodian students find Japanese language hard to study. The hardship has become a stressor, which hinders the success in learning. As a result, those who fail in learning Japanese language find it less motivated in learning in other courses too. This point in case is also supported by the study of assessment of psychosocial stressors and maladjustment among foreign students of the University of the Ryukyu, which most students (55.2% of 134 informants) reported that language inadequacy also caused stress hindering their study (Randall et al., 1998).
5- Mental and Physical Health
Even though Japan is a part of Asia, it is completely different from Cambodia. It can be seen that Japan is a developed one which requires people to run along with a wheel of current socio-economic development and technology. Having no or little knowledge, in technology particularly, causes student life trouble. One more example of the difference can be seen in terms of climate. Cambodia has only two seasons: wet and dry, whereas Japan has four seasons: winter, summer, spring and fall. This climate difference may cause Cambodian students fairly weak in physical condition.
Additionally, living in this new environment requires them some time to adjust. They may need time to socialize with other foreign students, neighborhoods, and Japanese people in particular. Yet, being far away from motherland where students have been living for over twenty years will cause loneliness. In Okinawa, after the arrival, foreign students experienced serious mental health conditions; among 134 students, 39.6% had been very depressed, 11.9% were having a ‘nervous breakdown’, and 9.7% felt not want to live on (Randall et al., 1998). In order to overcome this problem, students may take some time to adapt, thus they may spend less time on their study, especially self-study. It is even more stressful when students cannot communicate successfully. A clear example for this point is that when students do shopping, they fail to get what they want to or to understand what is written on the label of the products. Otherwise, it is hard to find Japanese people, outside the university/school, to speak English; even though they can speak, their English will not help them to communicate effectively.
Once again, after Pol Pot regime, it was the time which children of that generation needed nutritious food the most in order to grow properly in terms of physical and mental health. Due to poverty, children of that time could not have enough food to eat. This missing period has resulted in making Cambodian students who are now at the university not so fully fledged physically and mentally.
Having observed the different factors that hinder the success in Education, we can see that a certain group of students are performing like this or like that in academic achievement. After looking at historical and educational background, culture, family, language, and mental and physical health, the answer why Cambodian students are not as good as others becomes clearer. However, there are many more factors that have not been examined in this paper that can help Cambodian students and other foreign students as a whole to be successful in their education, such as supervision of the supervisors; lecturers; other differences of the individuals including motivation, learning strategies, language aptitude; the management; other stakeholders and the community concerned. Overall, Cambodian students can improve their academic success once only they learn to adapt and adjust to living in Japan well.