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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    • "Extensive studies have documented the significance of collaborative inquiry involving teachers and researchers in lesson study (Knapp et al. 2011; Puchner and Taylor 2006; Takahashi, Lewis and Perry 2013). However, attempts to establish collaborative inquiry through lesson study in countries outside Japan, such as USA and Australia, often face challenges due to teaching being viewed as a private activity, teachers' content knowledge, time constraints, leadership commitment, and lack of a common curriculum (Fernandez 2002; Groves and Doig 2010; Lewis, Perry and Murata 2006). Lewis et al. (2006, 2009) called for investment in repeated cycles of adaptations of Lesson Study to establish " a local proof path " (2006, p. 6) that explains learning pathways for teachers in different settings in order to create a stronger theoretical foundation for Lesson Study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Lesson study is highly regarded as a model for professional learning, yet remains under-theorised. This article examines the professional learning experiences of teachers and numeracy coaches from three schools in a local network of schools, participating in a lesson study project over two research cycles in 2012. It maps the interconnections between their experiences and their beliefs and practices, using Clarke and Hollingsworth’s (Teach Educ 18(8):947–967, 2002) Interconnected Model of Professional Growth. Analysis of interview data and video-recordings of planning meetings, research lessons, and post-lesson discussions reveals the development of teachers’ collaborative planning skills, increased attention to students’ mathematical thinking, use of orchestrated whole-class discussion based on anticipated student solutions and focused questioning, and the enhancement of collaborative practices for teacher inquiry. Our findings illuminate the interplay between the External Domain, the Personal Domain, the Domain of Practice, and the Domain of Consequence, in the teaching and learning change environment, and the mediating processes of enactment and reflection. Changes in the domains across the period of the lesson study provide evidence of teachers’ professional growth, with the iterative processes of enactment and reflection being critical in mediating this professional growth.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education
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    • "The " Math for Young Children " (M4YC) project incorporated the central activities and stages of the lesson study cycle, including a public research lesson: (1) setting goals; (2) planning; (3) implementation of a public research lesson ; and (4) debriefing of the lesson (Lewis et al. 2006). In addition to the typical stages of lesson study, this project emphasized mini-cycles of goal setting, planning, implementing and debriefing exploratory tasks during each of the six professional development days leading up to the public research lesson. "
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    ABSTRACT: In an effort to increase our understanding of what mathematics young children are capable of when provided with playful yet purposeful opportunities to learn, Canadian researchers initiated lesson study over 4 years with teams of teachers of young children (ages 4–7). The lesson study process followed a lesson study cycle of goal setting, planning, implementation and reflection, with one major variation: a focus on the design and implementation of exploratory tasks. Exploratory tasks are brief, collaboratively planned activities that focus on precise mathematics content with engaging contexts. The lesson study team featured in this paper presented students with challenging exploratory tasks to investigate length, perimeter and area measurement concepts as they progressed toward the public research lesson. Through the process, lesson study teachers increased their abilities to look and listen for student mathematics thinking that affected their subsequent planning to tasks. Notably, teacher estimations of what young children can do were expanded and raised. Students also made significant gains on pre-post interviews, suggesting that exploratory tasks are a powerful variation of lesson study that increases teacher and student learning due to increases in frequency, emphasis and implementation of quality tasks.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · ZDM: the international journal on mathematics education
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    • "Next, they observe one of them who teaches the designed research lesson. Afterwards, they share their observations, revise and reteach the research lesson (Fernandez, 2002; Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006). Lesson Study research shows that LS can be a powerful means for teachers to improve their teaching practice (Cheung & Wong, 2013; Xu & Pedder, 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Activating and cognitively demanding teaching behavior is problematic for many teachers in Dutch secondary education, in particular for the less experienced advanced beginners. In the context of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for both less and more experienced teachers of mathematics, Lesson Study has been chosen as professionalization method to contribute to activating and cognitively demanding teaching behavior. In Lesson Study research, effects are mostly reported based on self-reports. In a single-case study of an advanced beginning teacher, we explore the effectiveness of Lesson Study by using a mixed-method of observations, pupil questionnaires and teacher self-reports. The results indicate small learning effects on activating teaching behavior but no effect on cognitively demanding teaching behavior.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Aug 2015
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