Lesson study

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Lesson study (or jugyō kenkyū) is a teaching improvement process that has origins in Japanese elementary education, where it is a widespread professional development practice. Working in a small group, teachers collaborate with one another, meeting to discuss learning goals, planning an actual classroom lesson (called a "research lesson"), observing how their ideas work in a live lessons with students, and then reporting on the results so that other teachers can benefit from it.


In Japan, lesson study is done at the school, district, and national levels, with different objectives. School-based lesson study aims to address a school-wide ″research theme″, which may be content-specific (e.g. ″for students to see the connection between science and their everyday lives″) or cross-curricular (e.g. ″for students to clearly express their ideas and carefully consider the ideas of their friends″). Through multiple research lessons at different grade levels, a school faculty works toward a common vision of how to achieve their goals. Another common objective of school-based lesson study is to address changes in the national Course of Study, which is revised every 9 years or so.[1]

The median time for the planning of one research lesson in Japan is more than 5 weeks.[2] Note that the goal of school-based lesson study is not to refine a single lesson. Although a research lesson may be revised and re-taught, this is not considered a normal part of the lesson study process.[citation needed]

District-level lesson study is often used for schools to share learning with other schools. A school might have an open house, with research lessons held at every grade, which district leaders and educators from other schools will attend.

National-level lesson study is conducted by enthusiastic volunteers who are also very experienced, highly respected teachers. The research lesson is done at a major conference. The objective may be to explore new content or to present a new approach to teaching particular content. National-level research lessons often inform changes in the national Course of Study.

Despite differences between Japanese and American educational systems (see Education in Japan and Education in the United States), the practice is gaining in popularity in the United States in K-12 education and teacher training (See Instructional rounds), and more recently it is finding a home in higher education as a form of faculty development.

This is a specific example of the ongoing Japanese devotion to the Plan-Do-Check-Act PDCA decision-making discipline pioneered by W. Edwards Deming, which is based upon the Shewhart Cycle (named after Deming's collaborator from Bell Telephone Laboratories, Walter A. Shewhart).


  1. ^ Takahashi, Akihiko; McDougal, Thomas (2014). "Implementing a new national curriculum: Case study of a Japanese school's 2-year Lesson Study project". Annual Perspectives in Mathematics Education: Using Research to Improve Instruction: 13–21.
  2. ^ Murata, A.; Takahashi, A. (2002). District-level lesson study: how do Japanese teachers improve their teaching of elementary mathematics?. Annual Conference of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Las Vegas, Nev.

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