Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 349–369 | Cite as

Methodological Understandings from Elementary Science Lesson Study Facilitation and Research

  • Sharon Dotger


Teacher learning, as well as the development and testing of curriculum materials, are key for teaching lessons that bring the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards to life in classrooms. Lesson study is a process that links standards, teacher learning, curriculum materials, and instructional enactment together to facilitate student learning. This article has two goals: (1) describe the essential features of lesson study and, (2) discuss the challenges in facilitating and researching both teachers’ and students’ learning through this process. Lesson study’s adoption is relatively new in the United States, thus it is important to develop shared understanding of its features and how to study its impact.


Lesson study Professional development Research methods 


  1. Alston, A. S., Pedrick, L., Morris, K. P., & Basu, R. (2011). Lesson study as a tool for developing teachers’ close attention to students’ mathematical thinking. In L. C. Hart, A. S. Alston, & A. Murata (Eds.), Lesson study research and practice in mathematics education: Learning together (pp. 27–38). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Appleton, K. (2008). Developing science pedagogical content knowledge through mentoring elementary teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19, 523–545. doi: 10.1007/s10972-008-9109-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baba, T., & Kojima, M. (2003). Lesson study. In Japan International Cooperation Agency (Ed.), Japanese Educational Experiences. Tokyo: Japan International Cooperation Agency.Google Scholar
  4. Baba, T., & Kojima, M. (2004). Lesson study. In The history of Japan’s education development: What implications can be drawn for developing countries? Institute for International Development. Tokyo: JICA.Google Scholar
  5. Banilower, E. R., Smith, P. S., Weiss, I. R., Malzahn, K. A., Campbell, K. M., & Weis, A. M. (2013). Report of the 2012 national survey of science and mathematics education. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, M. (2009). Toward a theory of curriculum design and use: Understanding the teacher–tool relationship. In J. Remillard, B. Herbel-Eisenman, & G. Lloyd (Eds.), Mathematics teachers at work: Connecting curriculum materials and classroom instruction (pp. 17–37). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Bullough, R. V., & Pinnegar, S. (2001). Guidelines for quality in autobiographical forms of self-study research. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 13–21. doi: 10.3102/0013189X030003013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chichibu, T., & Kihara, T. (2013). How Japanese schools build a professional learning community by lesson study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 2(1), 12–25. doi: 10.1108/20468251311290105 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clarke, D., & Hollingsworth, H. (2002). Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth. Teaching and Teacher education, 18(8), 947–967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (2004). Practitioner inquiry, knowledge, and university culture. In J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey, & T. Russell (Eds.), International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (pp. 602–649). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, D. (1995). What is the system in systemic reform? Educational Researcher, 24(9), 11–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. S. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher, 34(3), 3–14. doi: 10.3102/0013189X034003003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dotger, S. (in review). Improving classroom research with video methodologies.Google Scholar
  14. Dotger, S., Barry, D., Wiles, J., Benevento, E., Brzozowski, F., Hurtado-Gonzales, J. L., … Wisner, E. (2012a). Developing graduate students’ knowledge of Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium through lesson study. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42, 20–24.Google Scholar
  15. Dotger, S., & McQuitty, V. (2014). Describing teachers’ operative systems: A case study. Elementary School Journal, 115, 73–96.Google Scholar
  16. Dotger, S., Moquin, F. K., & Hammond, K. (2012b). Lesson study as a mechanism for assessing student learning. Educator’s Voice, 5, 22–31.Google Scholar
  17. Dotger, S. & Walsh, D. (2015). Elementary art & science: Observational drawing in lesson study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 4, 26–38.Google Scholar
  18. Elliot, J. (2012). Developing a science of teaching through lesson study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(2), 108–125. doi: 10.1108/20468251211224163 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernandez, C. (2002). Learning from Japanese approaches to professional development: The case of lesson study. Journal of Teacher Education, 53, 393–405. doi: 10.1177/002248702237394 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fernandez, C., & Yoshida, M. (2004). Lesson study: A Japanese approach to improving mathematics teaching and learning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  22. Forbes, C., & Davis, E. A. (2010). Curriculum design for inquiry: Preservice elementary teachers’ mobilization and adaptation of science curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 820–839. doi: 10.1002/tea.20379 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goldsmith, L. T., Doerr, H. M., & Lewis, C. C. (2014). Mathematics teachers’ learning: A conceptual framework and synthesis of research. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 17, 5–36. doi: 10.1007/s10857-013-9245-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Green, E. (2014). Building a better teacher: How teaching works (and how to teach it to everyone). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  25. Hart, L., & Carriere, J. (2011). Developing the habits of mind for a successful lesson study community. In L. C. Hart, A. S. Alston, & A. Murata (Eds.), Lesson study research and practice in mathematics education: Learning together (pp. 27–38). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hiebert, J., & Morris, A. K. (2012). Teaching, rather than teachers, as a path toward improving classroom instruction. Journal of Teacher Education, 63, 92–102. doi: 10.1177/0022487111428328 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howey, K. R., & Zimpher, N. L. (2010). Educational partnerships to advance clinically rich teacher preparation. Report commissioned by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education for the Blue Ribbon Panel on clinical preparation and partnerships for improved student learning. Retrieved from
  28. Hurd, J., & Lewis, C. C. (2011). Lesson study step by step: How teacher learning communities improve instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  29. Isoda, M. (2007). Where did lesson study begin and how far has it come? In M. Isoda, M. Stephens, Y. Ohara, & T. Miyakawa (Eds.), Japanese lesson study in mathematics: Its impact, diversity, and potential for educational improvement (pp. 8–15). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  30. Isoda, M., Stephens, M., Ohara, Y., & Miyakawa, T. (2007). Japenese lesson study in mathematics: Its impact, diversity, and potential for educational improvement. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  31. Kesidou, S. (2001). Aligning curriculum materials with National Science Standards: The role of Project 2061’s curriculum-materials analysis procedure in professional development. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 12, 47–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lewis, C. C. (2002). Lesson study: A handbook of teacher-led instructional change. Philadelphia: RSB.Google Scholar
  33. Lewis, C. C. (2004). Does lesson study have a future in the United States? Journal of Social Science Education, 3(1), 115–137.Google Scholar
  34. Lewis, C. C. (2010). A public proving ground for standards-based practice: Why we need it, what it might look like. Education Week, 30(3), 28–30.Google Scholar
  35. Lewis, C. C., Perry, R. R., Friedkin, S., & Roth, J. R. (2012). Improving teaching does improve teachers: Evidence from lesson study. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(5), 368–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lewis, C., Perry, R. R., & Hurd, J. (2004). A deeper look at lesson study. Educational Leadership, 61(6), 18–22.Google Scholar
  37. Lewis, C., Perry, R. R., & Hurd, J. (2009). Improving mathematics instruction through lesson study: A theoretical model and North American case. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. doi: 10.1007/s10857-009-9102-7 Google Scholar
  38. Lewis, C., Perry, R. R., & Murata, A. (2006). How should research contribute to instructional improvement? The case of lesson study. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 3–14. doi: 10.3102/0013189X035003003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lewis, C. C., & Tsuchida, I. (1998). A lesson is like a switfly flowing river: How research lessons improve Japanese education. American Educator, Winter, 14–17 & 50–52.Google Scholar
  40. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Establishing trustworthiness. Naturalistic Inquiry, 289, 331.Google Scholar
  41. Lunenberg, M., Korthagen, F., & Swennen, A. (2007). The teacher educator as a role model. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 586–601. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2006.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meyer, R. D., & Wilkerson, T. L. (2011). Lesson study: The impact on teachers’ knowledge for teaching mathematics. In L. C. Hart, A. S. Alston, & A. Murata (Eds.), Lesson study research and practice in mathematics education: learning together (pp. 15–25). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mills, G. (2002). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  44. Mills College Lesson Study Group. (2005). How many seats? Excerpts of a lesson study cycle [DVD]. Oakland, CA: Mills College Lesson Study Group.Google Scholar
  45. Morris, A. K., & Hiebert, J. (2011). Building knowledge bases and systems of practice. The Elementary School Journal, 109(5), 429–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murata, A. (2011). Introduction: Conceptual overview of lesson study. In L. C. Hart, A. S. Alston, & A. Murata (Eds.), Lesson study research and practice in mathematics education: Learning together (pp. 1–12). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nagasaki, E. (2007). How has mathematics education changed in Japan? In M. Isoda, M. Stephens, Y. Ohara, & T. Miyakawa (Eds.), Japanese lesson study in mathematics: Its impact, diversity, and potential for educational improvement (pp. 22–25). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  49. NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For States, By States. On behalf of the twenty-six states and partners that collaborated on the NGSS. Achieve, Inc.Google Scholar
  50. Ono, Y., & Ferreira, J. (2010). A case study of continuing teacher professional development through lesson study in South Africa. South African Journal of Education, 30, 59–74.Google Scholar
  51. Perry, R. R., & Lewis, C. C. (2009). What is successful adaptation of lesson study in the US? Journal of Educational Change, 10, 365–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pianta, R. C., Belsky, J., Houts, R., Morrison, F. J., & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network. (2007). Opportunities to learn in America’s elementary classrooms. Science, 315, 1795–1796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Remillard, J. T. (2005). Examing key concepts in research on teachers’ use of mathematics curricula. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 211–246. doi: 10.3102/00346543075002211 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roth, K. J., Garnier, H. E., Chen, C., Lemmens, M., Schwille, K., & Wickler, N. I. Z. (2011). Vidoebased lesson analysis: Effective science PD for teacher and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 117–148. doi: 10.1002/tea.20408 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sportstec. (2013). StudioCode [computer software]. Retrieved from
  56. Stephens, M., & Isoda, M. (2007). Introduction to the English translation. In M. Isoda, M. Stephens, Y. Ohara, & T. Miyakawa (Eds.), Japanese lesson study in mathematics: Its impact, diversity, and potential for educational improvement (pp. xv–xxiv). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  57. Wang-Iverson, P., & Yoshida, M. (Eds.). (2005). Building our understanding of lesson study. Research for Better Schools.Google Scholar
  58. Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Proposing a set of core instructional practices and tools for teachers of science. Science Education, 96(5), 878–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Science Teaching and Teaching and LeadershipSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations