Report on the Japan Society for Educational Technology Seminar
"Research on the Gender Gap in How Favorable Female Characters in Cartoons Used in Textbooks for University Students Are Viewed"

I attended a seminar held by the Japan Society for Educational Technology (Research and Outcome on Educational Practices / General) at Akita University Tegata Campus.

While attending the seminar, I gave a presentation entitled, "Research on the Gender Gap in How Favorable Female Characters in Cartoons Used in Textbooks for University Students Are Viewed." In this presentation, I reviewed the outcomes of experiments conducted by the CRET and reported on the current findings to attain our goal of "a math textbook that is easy for females to understand."

An increasing number of illustrations and manga (cartoons) are used as a form of expression in various fields. We aim to examine if they can be used in textbooks. In reality, some high school math textbooks and textbooks for radio-mediated educational programs already use manga. Our research has shown that an appropriate amount of illustrations in textbooks facilitates studying for introductory learners. The effectiveness of illustrations in textbooks, therefore, can be assumed. The research group decided to conduct a gradual validation study for the use of illustrations and manga in math textbooks that are easier to understand for females. At a previous seminar, I reported on the preference of textbook covers and female characters among university students.

This time, I analyzed the preference between genders and reported in detail if a gender gap existed and what female respondents like to see. We observed which of the three textbook covers was the most popular. The three types examined are: a conventional cover, a cover with a recent female celebrity, and a cartoon version of the female celebrity. A gender gap was observed in this study. Although males showed some interest in illustrations, females showed no interest in pictures or illustrations, and preferred the conventional cover. A gender gap was also observed in the preference of female characters. Female respondents are more likely to have distinct likes and dislikes about female characters than male respondents. This means that the author of a textbook for females with female characters must pay closer attention to detail.

Regarding this presentation, I received advice from various perspectives. Many also showed their interest in this research. The feedback will be reflected upon in our future research.

In addition to presentations, the seminar hosted a lecture entitled, "Applying Technology to Education in the Super Digitized Era: Aiming to Improve the Quality of Learning," by Professor Shinichi Watabe from the Research Division of the Graduate School of Educational Informatics at Tohoku University. He discussed the changing roles of educational informatics over time, based on his practical experience in special needs education. Prof. Watabe also introduced an example of the new roles that educational informatics are playing at the regional level.

Digitalization has become a part of the norm that surrounds us. Prof. Watabe's suggestion of improving the quality of learning by integrating the quality of analogue experiences to their digital counterparts was a thought-provoking and educational experience.

(Yuri Shumura, CRET Researcher)

Yuri Shumura

CRET Researcher / Research Assistant of Yanagisawa Laboratory, Toyo Eiwa University

Hobbies: Listening to live concerts, reading, and chatting with friends

Research topic: Research related to manga-based math textbooks


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Areas of Reasearch in CRET

This laboratory conducts research on test evaluation and analysis. We also perform joint research and exchange programs with overseas testing research institutes.

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for the laboratory

This laboratory conducts research and development into testing approaches that measure communication skills, teamwork skills, and social skills, etc.

Dr. Atsushi Aikawa

Faculty of Human Sciences,
University of Tsukuba
Ph.D. in Psychology

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This laboratory conducts research on the foundation of computer-based testing, and basic research on media and recognition, as well as applied and practical research
that utilize such knowledge.

Dr. Kanji Akahori

Professor Emeritus of
Tokyo Institute of

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for the laboratory