International Education Journal


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Cultural barriers in educational evaluation: A comparative study on school report cards in Japan and Germany 

Masashi Urabe 
Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Institute for Comparative and International Education, Graduate School of Education, Hiroshima University, Japan



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1This article was extensively edited by Dr B. Matthews, Research Associate, Flinders University Institute of International Education.


This paper discusses cultural barriers in educational assessment by comparing Japanese and German school report cards. The discussions on assessment fluctuate between two intellectual extremes: objectified selection or educational diagnosis. In Japan, many teachers make written comments on school report cards with ambiguous expressions to avoid negatively motivating their students. German school report cards, on the other hand, are objective, but may cause pressure through their focus on marks. An analysis of examples of German and Japanese report cards reveals that Japanese report cards give priority to educational diagnosis while German report cards focus on objective selection. It depends on the culture and, in particular, cultural barriers as to which dimension is given priority. A cultural barrier is unique to people of the same cultural group. Japanese cultural barriers are characterised by concern for others' emotions and as such they prefer to use indirect communication. German cultural barriers, in contrast, are characterised by honesty which makes it difficult to report anything but the truth. Therefore, it can be difficult for Germans to flatter by distorting the truth.

Japan, Germany, cultural barrier, evaluation, assessment, school report card, objectified selection; educational diagnosis


 Urabe, M. (2006). Cultural barriers in educational evaluation: A comparative study on school report cards in Japan and Germany. International Education Journal, 7 (3), 273-283.

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