01 SES 01 A, Teacher Learning in Lesson Study and Peer Observation
Lesson Study (LS) is being utilised globally as a powerful model for teacher professional learning and development. This structured collaborative approach combining practice and theory with inquiry, supports teachers in their exploration and implementation of effective teaching practices through detailed examination of students’ learning in actual lessons (Bjuland and Helgevold, 2018). Originating in Japan more than 140 years ago, LS has become popular with educators worldwide since its first introduction in the United States in 1999 (Elliott & Ling, 2011). Elliot (2014) forecasts that as LS is utilised in different contexts worldwide it will shape up in different ways. More needs to be known about the factors that influence teacher learning in the context of LS. The current study aims to explore how individual, group and organisational (school) factors either support or constrain professional learning and development of individual teachers in the LS process.
The theoretical framework for this study is based on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (1978), which emphasises human learning as a social process and looks at how the societal context contributes to an individual’s development, and on Valsiner’s zone theory (1997) that redefines Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) by suggesting two additional zones, the zones of free movement (ZFM) and promoted action (ZPA) that address the roles of context and the goals and actions of an individual. More specifically, Valsiner’s zone theory adaptation by Goos (2013) was applied in this study. Goos (2013) has defined Valsiner’s ZPD as “a set of possibilities for development of new knowledge, beliefs, goals and practices created by the teacher’s interaction with the environment, the people in it, and the resources it offers” (p.523); ZFM as the affordances and constraints provided by the teacher’s professional context; and ZPA as activities that the teacher can be involved in that promote certain teaching approaches.
The paper discusses the analysis of a sub-set of data collected for a larger study. The study employs an interpretive case study approach exploring experiences and perspectives of four groups of teachers involved in LS in two secondary schools in Kazakhstan. The findings from two LS groups of teachers are presented. Two groups of teachers (three and four teachers in each) participated in a focus group discussion (FGD) and individual semi-structured interviews. Additionally, the participants were invited to share a video recording capturing their lesson planning and post-observation discussion within their LS groups, which has served as a source for triangulation. The data gathered via FGD and interviews were coded and analysed through emerging themes relevant to individual, group and organisational factors facilitating or hindering teacher learning within LS group process.
The research findings showed that the factors that influence teacher learning and development in the context of LS can be divided into three groups: individual, group and organisational (school) factors. The individual factors include a teacher’s background (educational and professional), a teacher’s perception of LS, a teacher’s LS experience, motivation to conduct LS, a teacher’s potential for change, a teacher’s professional goals, teacher autonomy. Among the group factors the quality of interaction with group members, the level of established trust, personal compatibility, group leader’s (moderator’s) role, group learning environment (atmosphere) were identified as the most significant aspects for teacher learning. When it comes to the organisational (school) factors that either constrain of facilitate teacher learning, three themes have emerged: school LS policy, teacher certification (attestation) and school leadership approach to LS. The study aimed to explore how these three groups of factors influence individual teacher learning within LS. The findings revealed that for some teachers particular factors serve as supports while for others as constraints and vice versa. This suggests that teachers participating in LS are the centrepiece of LS and can be seen as ‘active agents in their own development’ (Valsiner, 1997) whose learning and development depends on what is offered by the context of their professional activity. The findings of this study will contribute to research in the area of LS, specifically in relation to a professional learning model for teachers within secondary education, by providing a better understanding of the factors that facilitate or constrain teacher learning within LS group process. Furthermore, the study gives a deeper insight into how interaction within a LS group influences individual teachers and their professional learning and development which will be of interest to teachers, teacher educators and educational scholars in Kazakhstan and internationally.
Bjuland, R., & Helgevold, N. (2018). Dialogic processes that enable student teachers' learning about pupil learning in mentoring conversations in a Lesson Study field practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 70, 246-254. Elliott, J. (2014). Lesson Study, learning theory, and the cultural script of teaching. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 3(3). Elliott, J., Ling, L. (2011) "Editorial", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(1). Khokhotva, O. (2018). Lesson Study in Kazakhstan: case study of benefits and barriers for teachers. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 7(4), 250-262. Valsiner, J. (1997). Culture and the development of children's action: A theory of human development. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the development of children, 23(3), pp.34-41.
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