Teacher Perceptions of Japanese Lesson Study

Teacher Perceptions of Japanese Lesson Study

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4622-2.ch005
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This chapter provides the reader with insights from an action research study. The qualitative research process is explained including data collection methods, data analysis, and the action research process. The results reveal teacher perceptions of professional learning and specifically Japanese Lesson Study. For the purpose of understanding the action research process and the story that unfolded, three phases were identified: (1) astounded by Japanese Lesson Study, (2) the power of team, (3) learning in context with a peer coaching emphasis. Phases 1 and 2 will be addressed in detail in the upcoming sections.
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Japanese Lesson Study builds pathways for future learning beyond a specific lesson.

-Marcie Lloyd

The primary purposes of this qualitative action research study were to first to explore teacher perceptions of Japanese lesson study as a method of professional development, and second, to take teachers through an action research process as they observed the implementation of a literacy lesson in the classroom.

The purpose of qualitative research is to make sense of a process and interpret the meanings that are given to it by participants. Marshall and Rossman (1999) provide further explanation of qualitative research when noting that it is “pragmatic, interpretive, and grounded in the lived experiences of people” (p.2). Qualitative researchers are interested in the meaning people have constructed, how they make sense of their world, and how people interpret their experience (Merriam and Simpson, 2000). This study focused on how teachers made sense of their professional development experiences. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of what the participants, grade five and six English Language Arts teachers, perceived as effective professional development sessions and to understand how their instruction would be influenced by watching others teach in a classroom setting.

One of the most important goals of qualitative research is to shed light on a specific topic through analysis and synthesis of data collected during the study. As the phenomenon is examined in-depth, an understanding of how participants make meaning is realized. The aim of qualitative research is to gain insight into people’s motivations, attitudes, and lifestyles (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). This approach was suitable for this study because I was interested in what teachers perceive to be effective methods of professional development in the area of English Language Arts, specifically through the use of Japanese Lesson Study. Teacher staff development sessions are often based on student data, classroom products, instructional goals, and current educational mandates. Recognizing teacher perceptions of what constitutes effective professional development will allow insight into teacher’s attitudes and value systems. Moreover, qualitative research involves not only the analysis of interview and observational data but also the analysis of documents that will be related to the context of the study (Pattan, 2000). This study allowed teachers to analyze documents such as lesson plans in order to determine their effectiveness.

Assumptions of Action Research

Action research is a form of self-reflective problem solving which enables practitioners to better understand and improve educational practices such as lesson development. Lesson Study involves all teachers present as they actively seek to improve instruction based on goals from curriculum (Lewis & Hurd, 2011). These goals are centered on a question that might lend itself to action research among a group of teachers. Just as action research seeks to respond to practice problems through problem posing and problem solving, so too does Japanese Lesson Study. The four core processes of action research are planning or deciding how to deal with a problem, acting or implementing the plan, reflecting or analyzing outcomes and revising plans for another cycle of acting, and finally, observing or paying attention and recording the observations lend themselves to the cyclical nature of lesson study (Fernandez et.al., 2003).


Participant Selection

Fifth grade teachers at an intermediate school in Pennsylvania, USA were selected for the study through email. The group comprised a total of 166 years of educational experience if you added up their total years of service in education. There was not a criteria for length of tenure in order to be a candidate for the study. However, they needed to be instructors in a particular building with knowledge on the instruction of English Language Arts. Participants needed to be interested in participating in this study, able to devote ample time, and willing to engage reflectively and collectively in the lesson study model.

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