A Critical Analysis of English Language Entrance Examinations at Japanese Universities
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study investigates the influence of university entrance exams on the perceptions and attitudes that Japanese students and teachers have towards English-language exams. It is a qualitative study conducted within the framework of a critical paradigm and specifically refers to the theory of critical language testing proposed by Shohamy (2001). The study was conducted within this framework to highlight the current problems of university entrance exams and emphasize the need for change. It also challenges the positivist view which is dominant in Japanese language testing research and expands the research area within the Japanese context. The aim of the study was to empower both students and high school teachers who, as the highest stakeholders, are in a weak position and give them an opportunity to express their opinions and feelings through an open-ended questionnaire and interview. The study also intended to raise their awareness about their rights as test-takers to question the misuse of tests and encourage them to develop a critical view about the exam system. The results demonstrated that university entrance examination has a negative impact on both language learning for students and high school teaching for teachers. The students experience a psychological burden while preparing for and taking the exam. Likewise, teachers feel pressured by various stakeholders including students, parents, and administrators. In addition, both students and teachers realize that entrance exams have an important influence on the life and future of a student and that they cannot be avoided in an exam-driven society. The dissertation concludes with practical implications for both test-takers and testers to improve the current entrance examination system, in order to elicit positive feedback and better outcomes, as well as recommendations for further research.
EdD in TESOL