Perspectives: A Myth of Influence: Japanese University Entrance Exams and Their Effect on Junior and Senior High School Reading Pedagogy

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Bern Mulvey, Fukui University

In discussions regarding the negative aspects of exam "washback effect," one
example that is invariably mentioned is the exam-pedagogy relationship ostensibly
to be found in Japan. Indeed, it is the supposedly powerful influence of the
various university exams on junior and senior high school classroom pedagogy
and textbook content in Japan that allegedly both perpetuates inadequate teaching
methodologies and frustrates all attempts at reform. This paper examines the
large body of research that calls into question this traditional conception of a
causal relationship between the entrance exams and junior and senior high
school foreign language reading pedagogy and textbook content, and
hypothesizes as to the possible non-exam-related motivations for the continued
use in Japan of seemingly ineffective foreign language reading pedagogy.