East Asia: Twenty-first Century Educational Practices and STEM Education

This complete module with links to all materials may be downloaded as a PDF here.

Maranda Wilkinson

Franklin County School District

Franklin County, Tennessee

Slide 6

Slide 6 from the “East Asia: Twenty-first Century Educational Practices and STEM Education.” Sources available on slide and in PowerPoint.


East Asian countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore have excelled in the fields of Science and Math education. Technological advancements developed and produced in these countries have positioned them to be highly competitive in the global economy. These nations are highly interested in STEM education and systematically examine the strengths and weaknesses of their programs.

The major instructional component is a thirty-seven minute, thirty-second audiovisual PowerPoint presentation. It was first developed and field tested to serve as a resource for STEM educators and related stakeholders such as school administrators, board members, and parents.However, the module is also an excellent pedagogical resource for high school and even college-level instructors and students in a variety of courses.The module can be utilized in American high school STEM classes to provide students with an international context illustrating the importance of the mathematics, science, and technical subjects they are studying. Because of a focus upon human capital development and economic development, the module is applicable to high school economics courses or any course that includes content on contemporary East Asia including AP Human Geography, World History, and Comparative Politics.  

Slide 3

Slide 3 from the “East Asia: Twenty-first Century Educational Practices and STEM Education.” Sources available on slide and in PowerPoint.

Estimated module length: Approximately one and half to three hours (including preparatory reading, presentation, and discussion).


Identify the relationship between Post World War II East Asian economic growth and educational policies and practices.

Understand East Asian STEM educational practices policies including teacher development, supplemental education, curricula, and testing and assessment tools.

Compare and contrast East Asian Science and Mathematics educational policies and practices with those of the U.S

Investigate policy alternatives that might include adoption or modification of East Asian STEM educational practices and policies that might improve STEM education in U.S. schools.

Prerequisite knowledge:

Although prior knowledge about East Asia and in particular, Confucian traditional and contemporary impact on education is helpful, the module can be utilized for educators or students who do not have this background knowledge.

Module: Introductory Activity

Estimated time: including discussion, forty-five minutes to one hour.

Michael Lowry

Michael Lowry, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN. Source: The Chattanoogan at https://tinyurl.com/yc5yd6sq. See story for details on Michael’s 2015 Fulbright Award.

Either assign this interview with Michael Lowry as a preparatory reading for a workshop or class and have participants spend 20 to 30 minutes discussing the implications of the interview for US, STEM education, and economic and technological development.

Although workshop leaders or teachers can design alternative questions, the following is a suggested general question that is certain to stimulate discussion:

Singapore consistently ranks number one in the world in mathematics, science, and literacy in international testing. In the 2015 OECD’s Program For International Student Assessment (PISA), perhaps the most prestigious of all international assessments, globally, U.S. students ranked 40th, 25th, and 24th respectively, in these three categories. What portions of the interview with Michael Lowry appear to substantiate Singapore’s high level performance?  What portions of the interview possibly lead to questions about the accuracy of the above data?

The remainder of the module is a PowerPoint presentation Readers may also watch the PowerPoint below as video presentation with narration by the author of this module. The complete materials for this module are also compiled at the end.

The PowerPoint is accessible here.

Estimated time: thirty-seven minutes, thirty-seconds.

PowerPoint Module Outline:

East Asia: Educational Practices and STEM Education in the 21st Century

  • World Leaders
    • Economies and Technological Advancements
      • China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore
        • Economic rankings
      • Education
        • Science and Math rankings
          • China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore
        • Educational Approach
          • East Asia
            • Cultural view
            • Cram programs
            • Teacher education levels
            • Pedagogical practices (Science and Math)
              • Singapore, Japan, China, South Korea
            • Future Skills Needed
              • 21st Century Skills
            • STEM Education
              • Educational Models/Perspectives
            • S. Educational Models of the Future
            • Review
            • Discussion Questions
            • References

Video Presentation of “East Asia: Twenty-first Century Educational Practices and STEM Education”

Please see below to skip to specific slides in the video:

Slide 1: Introduction

Slide 2: Outline

Slide 3: Quote by James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Coalition

Slide 4: 2017 World Economies

Slide 5: Notable Asian Economies

Slide 6: “The Four Industrial Revolutions”

Slide 7: “Asian Industry: Types”

Slide 8: “Quote by Dave Breitenstein, Audience/Metrics Analyst”

Slide 9: “Education Rankings (Specifically in Science and Math According to 2015 PISA Scores)”

Slide 10: “Education Rankings (Specifically in Science and Math according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2015)”

Slide 11: Educational Approach: Cultural View

Slide 12: Educational Approach: Cram Schools

Slide 13: Educational Approach: Teacher Education Levels

Slide 14: Educational Approach: Pedagogical Practices (Singapore)

Slide 15: Educational Approach: Pedagogical Practices (Japan)

Slide 16: Educational Approach: Pedagogical Practices (China)

Slide 17: Educational Approach: Pedagogical Practices (South Korea)

Slide 18: Future Skills Needed (1/3)

Slide 19: Future Skills Needed (2/3)

Slide 20: Future Skills Needed (3/3)

Slide 21: What is STEM Education?

Slide 22: STEM: Single-Discipline Reference and STEM as a Reference for Science and Math

Slide 23: STEM: Separate Science Disciplines That Incorporate Other Disciplines and STEM: Separate Disciplines

Slide 24: STEM: Science and Math Connected by Technology or Engineering Program and STEM: Coordination Across Disciplines

Slide 25: STEM: Combining Two or Three Disciplines and STEM: Integrated Disciplines

Slide 26: STEM as a Transdisciplinary Course or Program

Slide 27: U.S. Educational Models of the Future

Slide 28: Review

Slide 29–34: Discussion Questions

Slide 35–39: References

References and resources

http://www.economywatch.com/world-industries/asia-industry.html: “Asia Industry, Asian Industry” on Economy Watchfrom June 29, 2010.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/04/asian-students-carry-high-expectations-for-success/2615483/: Dave Breitenstein’s article “Asian Students Carry High Expectations for Success” from USA Todayon August 4, 2013.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/329/5995/996:Rodger W. Bybee’s article “What Is STEM Education?” from Science Magazine from August 27, 2010.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Cram_school&oldid=1008194:Bybee, R. W. (2013). The case for STEM education challenges and opportunities. (pp. 29-30, 34-35, 40, 71, 74-78) Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cram_school: Entry on Cram schools by New World Encyclopedia.

https://ptolemy.berkeley.edu/projects/cps/: “Cyber-Physical Systems” from the University of California at Berkeley Ptolemy Project

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/10/17/commentary/world-commentary/japanese-students-excel-mathematics/#.WoB91Z9MFnE:“Why Japanese students excel at mathematics” from The Japan Times by Ward Gardner from October 17, 2016.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/worlds-biggest-economies-in-2017/: “The world's 10 biggest economies in 2017” from We Forum by Alex Gray from March 9, 2017. 

https://www.air.org/resource/what-united-states-can-learn-singapore’s-world-class-mathematics-system-exploratory-study: “What the United States can learn from Singapore's world-class mathematics system: An exploratory study” from the American Institutes for Research by Allan Ginsburg et al. from January 28, 2005.

https://theconversation.com/why-is-singapores-school-system-so-successful-and-is-it-a-model-for-the-west-22917: “Why is Singapore's school system so successful, and is it a model for the West?” from The Conversation by David Hogan from February 11 ,2004.

http://repository.upenn.edu/cpre_policybriefs/37: “A comparative study of teacher preparation and qualifications in six Nations” by Richard Ingersoll by The Consortium for Policy Research in Educationfrom February 2007.

http://www.businessinsider.com/pisa-worldwide-ranking-of-math-science-reading-skills-2016-12:“The latest ranking of top countries in math, reading, and science is out - and the US didn't crack the top 10” from Business Insider by Abby Jackson and Andy Kiersz from December 6, 2016.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ljkelly/2017/09/20/forbes100-5-companies-that-have-shaped-asia-and-the-world/#1fc9a6572a7c: “5 Companies That Have Shaped Asia, And The World” by Luke Kelly from Forbesfrom September 20, 2017.

http://statisticstimes.com/economy/countries-by-projected-gdp.php: “List of countries by projected GDP” from Statistics Times from May 6, 2018.

“Interview with Michael Lowry” from June 30, 2018.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/04/05/why-everyone-must-get-ready-for-4th-industrial-revolution/#305176173f90: “Why Everyone Must Get Ready For The Fourth Industrial Revolution” by Bernard Marr from Forbesfrom April 5, 2016.

https://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/mathematics-teaching-in-japan/“Mathematics teaching in Japan” by Educational Research and Newsletter and Webinarsfrom March 2004.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/11/23/issues/teaching-quality-lesson-quantity-may-key-japans-top-math-marks/#.W00VvdhKgk8(2014, November 23) ”Teaching quality, not lesson quantity, may be key to Japan's top math marks” by The Japan Timesby J.J. O'Donoghue from November 23, 2014.

http://www.gsee-kyoto.kier.kyoto-u.ac.jp/GSEE_Kyoto Summit2013/Oct21/Yasushi Ogura (Kyoto20131021).pdf  “The Science Education in Japan Its Strengths and Weaknesses” by Yasushi Ogura from Saitama University at the GSEE/Kyoto Summit: Initiatives that Can Change Science Education” in Kyoto, October 21, 2013

http://blog.btrax.com/en/2017/10/18/top-10-largest-japanese-companies-in-the-world-2/“Top 10 largest Japanese companies in the word” by PiPaticha from the Freshtraxblog on October 18, 2017.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/05/world/asia/china-textbooks-britain.html“Britain Turns to Chinese Textbooks to Improve Its Math Scores” by Amy Qin from The New York Times from August 5, 2017.

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2094427,00.html“Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone” by Amanda Ripley from TIME Magazine from September 25, 2011.

http://aas2.asian-studies.org/EAA/EAA-Archives/23/1/1531.pdf: Mousumi Roy, “Asia’s Role in the Four Industrial Revolutions,” from the Spring 2018 Education About Asia.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/03/21st-century-skills-future-jobs-students/: “What are the 21st-century skills every student needs?” by Jenny Soffel from We Forumfrom March 10, 2016

https://www.studyinternational.com/news/south-korean-teens-top-maths-science-lack-interest-report/: “South Korean teens top in maths and science, but lack interest – report” from Study International Newsfrom April 14, 2017.

http://www.human.tsukuba.ac.jp/~mathedu/2504.pdf: “Characteristics of Japanese math lessons” by Akihiko Takahashi from Tsukuba Journal of Educational Studyin Mathematicsin 2006.

http://japan.stripes.com/news/exam-cram: “Exam cram” by Stripes JapanTakahiro Takiguchi from February 17, 2015.

http://www.iea.nl/timss-2015:Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2015

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/012216/worlds-top-10-semiconductor-companies-tsmintc.asp: “The world's top 10 semiconductor companies” by Justin Walton from Investopediafrom December 11, 2017.

“Science Education in South Korea: Towards a Holistic Understanding of Science and Society” by S. T. Wichmanowski from The Fulbright Teacher Exchangein 2015.

http://www.worldstopexports.com/south-koreas-top-10-major-export-companies/: “South Korea's top 10 major export companies” by Worlds Top Exports from Daniel Workman from May 3, 2018.

https://www.akademisains.gov.my/download/science%20education.pdf:“Science education in China: international experience and localization” by Qidi Wu from The Academy of Sciences, Malaysia from May 23, 2015.