Lesson Studies and accredited modules Lesson Studies and accredited modules

This 30 credit Masters Level course will enable school-based teams of teachers to carry out a Lesson Study. Its viability will therefore depend on a) the recruitment of school-based teams (ideally 3-4 teachers) from a particular subject area, or teaching cross-curricular content in common; or b) the recruitment of individual teachers who are in a position to lead a lesson study group in their school.

Lesson study is a collaborative form of teacher research that originated in Japan and has rapidly spread on a global scale to many countries, including the USA, UK, Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong Lo Mun Ling and her co-workers at the Hong Kong Institute of Education blended Lesson Study with variation theory developed by Ference Marton and his associates at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Variation theory provides teachers engaged in Lesson Study with a pedagogical tool for developing innovative teaching strategies aimed at ’learning with understanding.’ This form of Lesson Study informed by a learning theory, which focused the teachers’ attention on the quality of their pupils’ learning experiences, became known as Learning Study.  It is this theory-informed approach to Lesson Study that the module will aspire to facilitate in schools. However, participating teachers will also be encouraged to explore the relevance of other learning theories as pedagogical resources for Lesson Study.

The module will engage participating teachers in the progressive development of teaching and learning through a series of action research cycles in their schools. A Lesson Study will be defined in terms of a focus on a particular object of learning, such as a topic, concept or complex skill, rather than a particular unit of time. An object of learning has both a specific and general aspect. It will involve the acquisition of specific subject knowledge, but also the development of those general capabilities involved in putting that knowledge to practical use in the contexts of everyday life and work. Deepening understanding of an object of learning will involve pupils’ in discerning both the specific and general aspects of an object of learning.

In each cycle of a Learning Study, called ‘research lessons’, a group of teachers, often supported by an academic  facilitator, test and modify their  lesson design(s) and pedagogical strategies by observing a lesson, interviewing a sample of students from the class, and comparing pre and post lesson evidence of their levels of understanding . The data as a whole is subjected to a post-lesson analysis by the group, which then forms the basis of an amended lesson/pedagogical design for testing in the next cycle.

The cyclical process of Lesson Study may be organized by participating teachers for public presentation to an external audience, both within and outside the school. In this way it contributes to a stock of professional knowledge that can be used by the teaching profession as a whole. This module will present Lesson Study as a process in which the professional development of participating teachers cannot be divorced and set apart from its role as a mode of producing public knowledge for the teaching profession as a whole. In this respect links will be made to Lawrence Stenhouse’ s  idea of the ‘teacher as researcher’ and its relationship to his process model of school-based curriculum development.

Teacher teams involved in/with the module will be required to collectively construct a Lesson Study in publishable form for presentation to professional peers. It will be structured around a Research Poster presentation depicting the process, research methods, theoretical resources used and literature reviewed, and the major findings.