How Should Research Contribute to Instructional Improvement? The Case of Lesson Study

Educational Researcher (Impact Factor: 2.93). 04/2006; 35(3):3-14. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X035003003


Lesson study, a Japanese form of professional development that centers on collaborative study of live classroom lessons, has spread rapidly in the United States since 1999. Drawing on examples of Japanese and U.S. lesson study, we propose that three types of research are needed if lesson study is to avoid the fate of so many other once-promising reforms that were discarded before being fully understood or well implemented. The proposed research includes development of a descriptive knowledge base; explication of the innovation’s mechanism; and iterative cycles of improvement research. We identify six changes in the structure and norms of educational research that would enhance the field’s capacity to study emerging innovations such as lesson study. These changes include rethinking the routes from educational research to educational improvement and recognizing a “local proof route”; building research methods and norms that will better enable us to learn from innovation practitioners; and increasing our capacity to learn across cultural boundaries.

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Available from: Catherine Lewis, Aug 26, 2014
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    • "Lesson study embodies content-focused, coherent, continuous , and collaborative teacher learning activities (Perry & Lewis, 2009)—the characteristics of professional development empirically shown to be associated with improved instruction and student learning in the United States (Desimone, 2009; Hawley & Valli, 1999; Loucks-Horsley, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998; Wilson & Berne, 1999). It is also a powerful model for scaling up teaching aligned with the CCSS because lesson study facilitates teacher enactment of ambitious instruction (Hiebert, Gallimore, & Stigler, 2002; Lewis et al., 2006). Teachers participating in lesson study collectively engage in an in-depth study of curriculum and instructional materials and students' thinking, and experiment with problem-solving approaches that promote students' conceptual understanding in a research lesson (Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: The state of Florida has taken an unprecedented approach to teacher professional development in its Race to the Top (RTTT) Program application by proposing to promote an international innovation that originates in Japan, “lesson study,” as a statewide teacher professional development model. Since winning the US$700 million RTTT funding in 2010, the Florida Department of Education and districts have been promoting lesson study as one of the statewide vehicles to implement the state standards aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This study analyzed the state and districts’ approaches to promote lesson study using policy documents, statewide district survey data, and interviews. We found that a majority of districts mandated lesson study implementation without securing or spending sufficient funding. In addition, the existing organizational structures and routines for professional development pose a major challenge in capacity building of district leaders and teachers to engage in lesson study.
    Journal of Teacher Education 07/2015; DOI:10.1177/0022487115593603 · 2.29 Impact Factor
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    • "However Likando (2014) notes that adaptations need to be made when using lesson study in culturally different contexts such as the USA and I would expect some adaptations within the South African context. According to Lewis and colleagues (Lewis, et al., 2006) lesson study was also used successfully in the UK to improve the teachers' pedagogy. In my view, lesson study is a useful opportunity for both improving teacher practice in the classroom as well as stimulating teacher reflection and thus provides a rich empirical field enabling me to gather data on teacher reflection on a particular topic of interest (in this case multidigit subtraction). "
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper I share a proposed study aimed at investigating teacher reflection on the teaching of a particular topic in the context of lesson study. Lesson study is becoming an increasingly popular form of professional development around the world and more recently it is being investigated within the South African context (see for example Pillay, 2014b). In this paper, I provide some general context and literature review as to why an investigation into teacher reflections on lesson study is important within both the South African context and in relation to my role as Foundation Phase Mathematics subject adviser at Dr. Kenneth Kaunda district in the North West Province of South Africa. The topic of my focus was prompted by the observations made while fulfilling my professional responsibilities. From my numerous school visits, it is apparent that many learners have problems when it comes to multidigit subtraction. Hence, the purpose of my proposed study is to investigate teacher reflections on the teaching of multidigit subtraction to Grade 3 learners. It is envisaged that this inquiry will be carried out through the use of a lesson study involving foundation phase teachers. The interpretive qualitative research paradigm supports this study and a case study approach will be used to conduct this research. Vygotsky’s socio–cultural perspective of teaching and learning will guide both data collection and analysis. The findings of this study should point to possible solutions to the challenges encountered in the teaching of multidigit subtraction in my area and I also plan to incorporate these into my future work with teachers.
    AMESA 2015 Proceedings, University of Limpopo; 07/2015
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    • "To achieve our multifaceted research objectives we have adopted a Japanese Lesson Study (JLS) framework—a PD practice that has gained international interest because of its role in strong math performance in Japan (Huang et al. 2011; Lewis et al. 2006; White and Lim 2008). Japanese Lesson Study involves collaborative planning, teaching and reflecting on classroom lessons and is generally characterized by four steps: (1) goal setting/investigation; (2) planning; (3) implementation and Research Lesson; and (4) debriefing/reflection (e.g., Lewis et al. 2006). The JLS framework is highly collaborative and grounded in practice, two features of PD that have been identified as powerful in supporting change in both teachers and in the math performance of their students (Darling-Hammond et al. 2009; Garet et al. 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: Increased efforts are needed to meet the demand for high quality mathematics in early years classrooms. Despite the foundational role of geometry and spatial reasoning for later mathematics success, the strand receives inadequate instructional time and is limited to concepts of static geometry. Moreover, early years teachers typically lack both content knowledge and confidence in teaching geometry and spatial reasoning. We describe our attempt to deal with these issues through a research initiative known as the Math for Young Children project. The project integrates effective features of both design research and Japanese Lesson Study and is designed to support teachers in developing content knowledge and new approaches for teaching geometry and spatial reasoning. Central to our Professional Development model is the integration of four adaptations to the Japanese Lesson Study model: (1) teachers engaging in the mathematics, (2) teachers designing and conducting task-based clinical interviews, (3) teachers and researchers co-designing and carrying out exploratory lessons and activities, and (4) the creation of resources for other educators. We present our methods and the results of our adaptations through a case study of one Professional Learning Team. Our results suggest that the adaptations were effective in: (1) supporting teachers’ content knowledge of and comfort level with geometry and spatial reasoning, (2) increasing teachers’ perceptions of young children’s mathematical competencies, (3) increasing teachers’ awareness and commitment for the inclusion of high quality geometry and spatial reasoning as a critical component of early years mathematics, and (4) the creation of innovative resources for other educators. We conclude with theoretical considerations and implications of our results.
    ZDM: the international journal on mathematics education 06/2015; 47(3). DOI:10.1007/s11858-015-0679-2
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