Designing the study
As gathering evidence in the Lesson Study is important for learning, the team needs to decide on a plan to investigate student learning and thinking. This includes what type of formal or informal evidence to collect, and how to observe and record the data. This coincides with study and lesson planning.
For example, teachers learning about assistive technology may use written or oral explanations as a measure of conceptual understanding. A further exercise to demonstrate understanding is to have the teachers develop mini tasks and exercises they would develop when working with students with specific disabilities. Observers pay attention to how teachers explain their lesson and the extent to which assistive technology functions are incorporated to compensate a student’s disability. Yet a further component of the learning can be how the assistive technology is incorporated with curriculum content. For instance, how to use a lesson on a specific subject matter to combine with the instruction of a particular feature or function of an assistive technology device.
Cerbin and Kopp (2006) emphasise the difference between what students learn, and how students learn from the lesson. Lesson Study is to “focus on student thinking during the lesson, how they make sense of the material, what kinds of difficulties they have, how they answer questions, how their thinking changes during the lesson and so forth’’ (Cerbin & Kopp, 2006, p. 252). By contrast, this is different from investigating lesson effectiveness where pre and post lesson evaluations are necessary to study student performance (Cerbin & Kopp, 2006).
Teaching and observing the research lesson
Teaching and observation is a critical phase of Lesson Study. This is where one team member teaches the lesson where the other members are observers, responsible for collecting the data. Each observer has a role to focus on different aspects of the lesson delivery. The focus of the observations is not on the teacher but how' students are responding to the lesson. This surfaces rich evidence on the progress of the learning goal during the lesson, capturing the complexity of actual teaching and learning. The focus is on what the teacher missed during instruction and the conversations students are having about their learning. In carrying out a lesson that combines assistive technology use, this is w'here the different forms of knowledge arising from the ТРАСК model will emerge for evaluation. Through data collected, points of strengths, shortcomings and in-between practices will provide decisive evidence for maintenance, improvement or elimination of practices. Data collection can take a variety of sources including field notes, observing specific types of student activity, interviews or use checklists and rubrics to categorise or monitor student engagement, performance, thinking, and/or behaviour. They may observe the entire class or focus on specific students during the lesson. Video recording of lessons also helps to capture critical information though this needs consent. An important point to note is if students have disabilities, accessible materials needs to be provided to ensure appropriate mediums of feedback are available.
By extension, the process of Lesson Study provides a conducive space for reflexive review of lessons learnt. While this has particular potential for teachers, it has also to be deliberately nurtured. Myers (2012) offers some guiding points to enhance the reflective process:
- • Create an environment conducive to reflection.
- • Emphasise the reflective nature of the lesson study process.
- • Include tasks that require continuous reflection.
- • Provide quality support.