Can a “Lesson Study” adaptation have a positive impact on the development of trainee Teach First...
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Can a “Lesson Study” adaptation have a positive impact on the development of trainee Teach First Mathematics teachers?. Jennifer Shearman, Canterbury Christ Church University [email protected] Abstract.

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Can a “Lesson Study” adaptation have a positive impact on the development of trainee Teach First Mathematics teachers?

Jennifer Shearman, Canterbury Christ Church University

[email protected]


  • Japanese Lesson Study is a collaborative approach to planning and teaching that has been attributed as a major factor in achievement of Japanese High School students in mathematics

  • Research literature evaluating Lesson Study groups suggested that an adaptation of Lesson Study undertaken with Teach First trainees may be a successful sustainable approach to accelerating development of the participants’ pedagogy and reflective skills

  • A mixed-method, interpretive case study pilot was undertaken, with 3 participants taking part in an adaptation of Lesson Study

  • Results suggest that a single iteration of collaborative planning has a measurable impact on pedagogy development and reflective skills

Why Lesson Study?

  • “Lesson study is a simple idea. If you want to improve instruction, what could be more obvious than collaborating with fellow teachers to plan, observe, and reflect on lessons?” (Lewis, 2002)

  • Teach First participants – high achieving

  • Focus on subject-specific pedagogy and reflection

  • Challenging schools

  • Mission to “close the gap” – role in whole school improvement

  • Focus on increasingly school-led ITE

  • Existing Lesson Study Groups involving Teach First teachers

Why Lesson Study?

  • Perceived superior achievement of Japanese High School Students “the highest scoring classroom in the US (and UK) sample did not perform as well as the lowest-scoring classroom in the Japanese example” (Stigler and Herbert, 1999)

  • “Bottom-up” CPD, driven by teachers – Japanese culture

  • Correlation between incidence of Lesson Study and constructivist teaching methods (Lewis & Tsuchida,1998) – personalvalues

  • “Kounaikenshuu”; no teacher ever becomes totally ‘competent’ but all teachers can and must improve over weeks, months and years – contrast to ‘standards’ and ‘criteria’.

  • USA, since 1990s

  • Rapid growth in popularity

  • Lesson Study effective in a USA school setting if the teachers learn skills of applying critical lenses to planning, observing and evaluating the lesson (Fernandez, et al., 2003)

  • Increased positive feedback from teachers (Perry and Lewis, 2008)

  • Japan (Lewis & Tsuchida, 1998)

  • Student attainment

  • Distribution of new content and approaches

  • Connecting practice in the classroom with the broader goals of education

  • Forum for exploring conflicting ideas about pedagogy

  • Improved the standing of teachers

Evidence of Effectiveness

  • UK, since 2001

  • Positive effect upon pupil learning, achievement and engagement

  • No evidence of negative effects (Dudley, 2011).

  • Correlation between school improvement and incidence of Lesson Study (McKinsey and company, 2007)

  • Limited evidence of ‘bottom-up’ CPD (Burghes & Robinson, 2009)

ITE, since 2008

“Microteaching” Lesson Study

Development in the teachers’ plans

Reduced ‘teacher led instruction’

Increased ‘class discussion’ and ‘student exploration’ (Fernandez, 2010).

Is learning ‘tutor-student’, ‘mentor-student’ or ‘student-student’? (Carroll, 2013)

Research Questions

  • Does Lesson Study have an impact on pedagogy?

  • Does Lesson Study have an impact on reflective skills?

  • Will Lesson Study be sustainable?

  • “Will an adaptation of Lesson Study have a measurable short-term and long-term impact on Teach First participants’ pedagogy and skills of reflection?


  • Most previous research interpretivist (Fernandez, 2002), (Perry & Lewis, 2008), (Ricks, 2011), (Carroll, 2013)

  • Some positivist research (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999), (Lewis & Tsuchida, 1998), (Dudley, December 2008) and (McKinsey and company, 2007)

  • Mixed-method, interpretive case study pilot

  • N=3 

  • Develop pedagogy (including mathematical pedagogy)

    • Develop an awareness of what ‘good’ teaching is and pedagogical strategies.

    • Encourage creativity, a willingness to take risks, try out new ideas

    • Improve subject knowledge for teaching within the topic taught during the lesson

  • Develop the participants’ skills of evaluation and reflection

    • Develop reflective, critical analysis of teaching.

    • Develop participants’ ability to evaluate.

  • Develop sustainable partnership

    • To share creative ideas generated by the process with colleagues.

    • Create a test bed and forum for trialling and evaluating new ideas

    • Involve participants and colleagues in their own professional development for the benefit of the whole school.

  • Self-assessment scale of 0-10 used on at least 3 occasions; after the first draft (created by participant), after the second draft (following mentor, tutor and peer comments), after a third draft (if necessary) and after evaluating the lesson

  • Lesson Plan, not the lesson or the teacher that is assessed

  • Adaptation of the Ofsted criteria for ‘features of good mathematics teaching’ (Ofsted, 2008).

Development of pedagogy

Development of evaluation and reflection, assessment of sustainability

BLACK: AllGREEN: Initial plan onlyRED: Additions after 1st and second iterationsBLUE: Additions after post-lesson feedback and evaluation

  • Qualitative assessment of changes in lesson plan

  • Semi-structured interview ‘neriage’

  • Qualitative assessment of evaluation

  • Power relationships and bias, focus on written/verbal evidence not tutor perception

Analysis – Development of pedagogy

  • All participants perceived that their lesson plans increased in effectiveness

  • no aspects of pedagogy were perceived to have worsened

  • Average scores increased by 1.5 points through collaboration

  • All the participants spoke positively about the effects of collaboration

  • Diminishing returns in taking part in more than one iteration of collaborative planning.

  • Average increase of 0.2 of a point after the second collaboration

  • Challenges in managing differences of opinion

  • Time constraints of taking part in such a task.

  • On average, participants perceived their plans more favourably after teaching them.

  • Post lesson feedback and evaluation scores increased by 0.2

  • Participants were encouraged to take more of a ‘risk’ following collaboration

  • Specific categories that reported large score increases (an overall increase >2.5 points) relate to pupil activity and assessment for learning

  • Specific categories that reported small score increases (an overall increase <1 point) relate to level of challenge and use of subject knowledge

  • Both participants’ lesson plans changed considerably in format – more focused on objectives and questioning, less on ‘logistics’ and timing

Analysis – Reflection, and sustainability

  • Development of evaluation and reflection

  • Process of collaboration developed evaluation skills in the participants

    • Pinpoint specific points in the lesson where effective learning occurred, and how collaboration influenced these points

    • Justify a particular approach, was taken sometimes acknowledging that the new approach post-collaboration had greater impact than would have happened originally

    • Concentration on LEARNING (neriage enhanced this effect).

  • Process of periodic self-assessment of lesson plans in itself developed evaluation skills

    • ‘unpick and unpack’ plan in order to reach a score

  • Participants found it challenging to remain focused on the lesson plan during the feedback

  • Development of sustainable collaboration

  • Participants all felt that the collaboration process improved their practice..

  • Two participants felt process was too time-consuming to be repeated in the same way.

  • Participants demonstrated that the process of lesson-planning was very specific to the school, department, and makeup of the class and timing of lessons.

Implications and future research

  • Was it Lesson Study?

  • What would increase participation?

  • Microteaching at Summer Institute – partnership between school and University

  • Mentor training

  • The effect of self-assessing lesson plans using a ‘good practice’ framework on trainee teacher development

  • The relationship between the perception of Lesson Study by teachers and the culture of the school they are working in

  • The effectiveness of a ‘pure’ Lesson Study project in a Teaching School with a Lesson Study group that has a mixture of trainees, NQTs and experienced teachers (including Specialist Leaders in Education)

  • The impact of an adapted Lesson Study at the Teach First Summer Institute


  • Burghes, D. & Robinson, D., 2009. Lesson Study: Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning, Reading: CFBT Education Trust.

  • Carroll, C., 2013. Lesson Study: Helping Pre-service Teachers to Bridge the Theory-Practice gap. Cork, University of Cork.

  • Dudley, P., 2011. Lesson Study Development in England: From School Networks to National Policy. International Journal of Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(1), pp. 85-101.

  • Fernandez, C., 2002. Learning from Japanese Approaches to Professional Development: The Case of Lesson Study. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(5), pp. 393-405.

  • Fernandez, M., 2010. Investigating how and what prospective teachers learn through microteaching Lesson Study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(1), p. 351–362.

  • Lewis, C., 2002. Does lesson study have a future in the United States?. Nagoya Journal of Education and Human Development, Volume 1, pp. 1-23.

  • Lewis, C. & Tsuchida, I., 1998. A lesson is like a swiftly flowing river: Research lessons and the improvement of Japanese education. American Educator, Volume Winter, pp. 14-17 and 50-52.

  • McKinsey and company, 2007. How the world's best performing school systems come out on top, London: McKinsey and company.

  • Ofsted, 2008. Mathematics: Understanding the Score - Improving practice in mathematics teaching at a secondary level, London: Crown.

  • Perry, R. & Lewis, C., 2008. What is successful adaptation of lesson study in the US?. Journal of Educational Change, 10(4), pp. 365-391.

  • Stigler, J. & Hiebert, J., 1999. The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. Kindle ed. New York: Free Press.

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