International education: Good research paper topics

For your education research paper, consider writing good research paper topics about education in different countries around the world.

Compare American and international education for your research paper. (Credit: Joerg Sarbach/AP Photo)

Compare American and international education for your research paper. (Credit: Joerg Sarbach/AP Photo)

Here are some term paper topics that discuss education in America versus in other countries around the world, international education, study abroad, and education in Japan and Finland.

Japanese colleges encourage study abroad

Check out Questia’s Education in Different Countries library for interesting topics. One good topic for your education studies term paper is to report on Japan’s higher education system. For example, during the economic boom of the 1990s, Japan sent the most students to study in the United States. However, by the late 2000s, that number has declined, due to Japan’s rapidly aging population, recruiting practices that promise jobs to college students before they graduate, and the global economy. Today, India, China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia are sending more college students to the U.S. than Japan.

To change that, Japanese government officials and university representatives are promoting education abroad programs with the goal of producing graduates who have cross-cultural skills for a global economy. In the article “Reversing Course,” by Charlotte West published in International Educator, January/February 2013, Akira Kuwamura, director of the international office at Aichi Prefectural University, explained: “The country is in need of producing college graduates who have a genuine interest in, and the capacity to deal comfortably and appropriately with, people from other cultures in order to establish and strengthen cross-border ties in today’s globalized workforce.”

Compare U.S. vs. other countries’ education

Another idea for a research paper is to compare the U.S. education system to that provided by other countries. The U.S. ranks near the bottom of OECD countries. The Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development is a group of 34 countries from North and South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific dedicated to economic development. The title of Julia Ryan’s December 3, 2013, Atlantic article says it all: “American Schools vs. the World: Expensive, Unequal, Bad at Math.” In the article she explains that when 15-year-olds around the world took the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012, American students placed 17 out of 34 in reading, 21 in science, and 26 in math. The U.S. overall rank was 17; top performing countries were China, Singapore and South Korea.

In addition, the U.S. ranks 5th in spending per student. “To put this in context: the Slovak Republic, which scores similarly to the U.S., spends $53,000 per student. The U.S. spends $115,000,” said Ryan. This average is misleading as socio-economic class plays a larger role in the U.S. than in other countries, and disadvantaged students in the U.S. are less able to perform well in school than equally poor children in other countries, such as China and Vietnam.

Education in Finland excels

A good research topic is to discuss how Finland consistently comes out near the top of many worldwide studies of primary education. Finland often places first or near the top in the OECD’s PISA tests for reading and math. “There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians,” wrote LynNell Hancock in “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” posted September 2011 in Smithsonian Magazine.

Some of the reasons Finnish schools excel:

  • Teachers are required to hold a master’s degree in education.
  • Schools are small enough so teachers know every student.
  • Teachers are willing to try whatever methods to help children learn.
  • Students often receive special help or personalized service if they are lagging.
  • Most of the country’s immigrant children (from Somalia, Russia, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia) succeed as well as native Finnish children.
  • The differences between the weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world.

Check out Questia’s Education in Different Countries library for more research topics.

What are some other differences in education systems around the world?

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