01 SES 09 C, Professional Learning Through Lesson Study
Lesson study was embedded into Kazakhstani secondary school settings as an approach focused on the collaboration of teachers working to improve teaching practice and student learning. This research will investigate the teachers’ attitude towards lesson study as a process and the teachers’ perspectives about the influence of lesson study on their professional development and on their perceptions about student learning.
Lesson study as an educational approach focuses on building a collaborative environment of teachers working to improve teaching practice and student learning (Desforges, 2015). Therefore, lesson study, a teacher professional development pathway which created in Japan, and was adopted by teachers in Kazakhstan and implemented in specialist secondary schools.
These secondary schools have become the major significant project in the transformation of secondary school provision process which has adopted the international experiences whilst acknowledging the tradition and cultural identity of Kazakhstan. Consequently, the focus area of this study is one of these secondary specialist schools which are based in southern Kazakhstan. This study concentrated on the perspective of 37 teachers working in this particular school and who have participated in the lesson study project which was embedded in this school setting as one of the approaches to induce positive changes in teaching and learning.
This research work endeavours to provide an insight of the lesson study approach as a way to facilitate the professional development. The focus group teachers adopted the lesson study approach several years ago. However, there is no empirical evidence which confirms the accuracy of the success and effectiveness of the lesson study project in the context of this particular school. Furthermore, this research paper also attempts to explore the general attitude of the teachers towards the lesson study project as well as the changes triggered by lesson study in the teachers’ perception of student learning as a process.
Consequently, the leading research questions of this paper will be as follows:
- To what extent does Lesson Study contribute to the professional development and pedagogy of a group of secondary school teachers in Kazakhstan?
- Does the use of Lesson study change the teachers’ perception of the learning as a process?
- What is the Kazakh teachers’ general attitude towards the Lesson Study project?
The research outcome might ensure a realisation the extent of change in teachers’ professional development process which may provide a better understanding of areas for development in the future. Moreover, this study will help to understand the school collaborative culture and also the process of improvement the teaching practice which is also useful to comprehend the current position of teacher development. Furthermore, this study endeavours to gain an insight from teachers about the student learning progress. It might help to identify the changes in their beliefs about learning as a process or whether there are still difficulties in understanding of complex identity of learning. One of the important aims of this study is to evaluate the work of lesson study based on teachers’ perceptions about its effect on their professional and individual development. The teachers’ general attitude towards the lesson study approach can help to develop and enhance its functions further. It is also important to know about the assertive contextual influence of lesson study based on investigation of the similar context to disseminate this approach in different Kazakhstani school settings as a mechanism for the improvement of education.
The rationale of the current project was to understand the contribution of lesson study to a) professional development of teachers and pedagogy, b) to the understanding of teachers about student learning, and c) to gather teachers’ reflections on lesson study as an approach. This study employs a single case study with a sequential explanatory mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) approach to allow different and complementary perspectives to highlight the strength and suppressing the weakness of each data collection method and exploring the corresponding benefit of lesson study (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie, 2004). This particular method is started by collecting quantitative data from the larger population to identify the general patterns and then followed by qualitative data collection which helps to specify or add more details to previously identified results (Cohen et al., 2011). This project commenced from a Likert scale questionnaire designed to engage all 37 teachers participated in the lesson study project. The elicited quantitative data was analysed according to the descriptive statistical analysis (Gay et al., 2009) to see the impact of lesson study on teachers’ professional development and on pedagogy. The analysis of the questionnaire helped to see the wider picture of lesson study influence and retrieve specific data to highlight in the interview process. The following interviews were conducted with 5 of the 37 teachers separately to discuss the patterns extracted from the questionnaire analysis and to add more detailed information to the quantitative data. Prior analysis of the questionnaire was needed to develop the questions of the interview. The English version of transcribed content of five interviews analysed using thematic analysis approach. Initially, the interview responses were scrutinised to elicit the important understandings related to the lesson study contribution on teaching practice and teachers’ perception about student learning. The outcome of this research might be relevant and conceptual only on the framework of its own context due to its small scale (Ashley, 2012). Therefore, it is impossible to relate the result of this project to any other context. Wood and Smith (2016) admits that there are a limited number of possibilities to generalise the outcome of the case study, however, the findings of the case study research might be applicable in a similar context. Since the focus case school of this study represents only one among the network of 20 schools, the outcome of research might be applicable in other regional secondary schools.
The participants of the study highlighted that lesson study positively impacted on a) creating collaborative environment, b) enhancing or modifying the teaching skills and c) change of their focus from teaching to student learning. According to the old school framework, teachers used to work in solitude way. Therefore, at the commencement point of the lesson study project, teachers did not agree to work together. Moreover, they were not actively involved into the sharing experiences of their classroom issues or teaching strategies or did not appropriately participate in discussing and the reflective part of the project. However, the initial significant changes in their perception of teaching and learning shifted their attitude towards lesson study. This made teachers gradually contribute into the alignment of teachers’ positions and into the consolidation of the teachers’ network focused on determining the right teaching practice influencing on students learning progress. The collaborative nature of the lesson study approach allowed teachers to speak about their teaching and content knowledge gaps and obtain beneficial recommendations from their colleagues to improve them. Lesson study provided an opportunity to investigate the educational issues in a real classroom setting. The participation in the project opened the doors and added a confidence to teachers’ professionalism to state the learning challenges and collaboratively choose the strategies to overcome them. Teachers learned to utilise the right teaching practices to impact on student learning. This study does not report any explicit improvement in student learning through lesson study. However, almost all teachers claimed about a change of concentration from teaching to student learning. Teachers gathered evidence of learning by observing the reflection of case students on collaboratively prepared teaching strategies. All these observations conclude that teachers’ practice of lesson study might gradually have an influence on the improvement of education.
Ashley, L.D. (2012) Case study research. Research methods and methodologies in education, pp.102-106. Cajkler, W., Wood, P., Norton, J., Pedder, D. and Xu, H. (2015) Teacher perspectives about lesson study in secondary school departments: a collaborative vehicle for professional learning and practice development. Research Papers in Education, 30(2), pp.192-213. Cohen, L., Manion, L., and Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education. Milton Park. Abingdon, Oxon, (England): Routledge. Creswell, J. W., and Clark, V. C. (2007) Designing and conducting mixed-methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing Inc. Desforges, C. (2015) Lesson Study as a strategic choice for CPD. In Dudley, P. (ed.) Lesson Study: Professional Learning for our time, London, Rutledge, pp.15-20. Dudley, P.J. (2012) Lessons for learning: how teachers learn in contexts of lesson study (Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge). Dudley, P. (2013) Teacher learning in Lesson Study: What interaction-level discourse analysis revealed about how teachers utilised imagination, tacit knowledge of teaching and fresh evidence of pupils learning, to develop practice knowledge and so enhance their pupils' learning. Teaching and teacher education, 34, pp.107-121. Dudley, P. (2011) Lesson Study development in England: from school networks to national policy. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(1), pp.85-100. Dudley, P. (2015) How Lesson Study Works and why it creates excellent learning and teaching in Dudley. Lesson Study: Professional Learning for our time, London, Rutledge, pp.1-24. Dudley, P. (2015) Lesson Study: Professional learning for our time. Routledge. Gay, L.R., Mills, G.E., and Airasian, P. (2009) Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications. New Jersey, NJ: Pearson. Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2012) Professional capital. Transforming Teaching. Johnson, R.B. and Onwuegbuzie, A.J. (2004) Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come. Educational researcher, 33(7), pp.14-26. Newby, P. (2010) Research methods for education. Pearson Education. Osberg, D. and Biesta, G. (2010) The end/s of education: Complexity and the conundrum of the inclusive educational curriculum. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(6), pp.593-607. Shamshidinova, K., Ayubayeva, N., and Bridges, D. (2014) Implementing Radical Change: Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools as Agents of Change. In Bridges, D. (ed.) Educational Reform and Internationalisation: The Case of School Reform in Kazakhstan. Peterborough: Cambridge University Press, pp.71-82. Stigler, J.W. and Hiebert, J. (2009) The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. Simon and Schuster. Wood, P. and Smith, J. (2016) Educational research: taking the plunge. Camarthen: Independent Thinking Press.
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