Applying the Lesson Study Method in a Graduate Teaching Methods Course: Implications for Improving College Teaching

By Robinson, J. Shane | NACTA Journal, September 2016 | Go to article overview

Applying the Lesson Study Method in a Graduate Teaching Methods Course: Implications for Improving College Teaching


Robinson, J. Shane, NACTA Journal


Introduction

Students need a forum in which they can actively solve problems, make decisions, communicate in both oral and written form, and work in teams (Evers et al., 1998; Robinson et al., 2007). Assistance in acquiring these skills is perhaps even more pertinent for students who are preparing to become educators in either formal or non-formal settings. According to Lieberman and Mace (2010), "there is a worldwide concern that schools must change to meet the demands of rapidly changing demographics, the globalization of the economy, as well as the technological and cultural changes that are happening around us" (p. 77). To that end, pedagogical professional development is important and necessary (Lieberman and Mace, 2010).

Numerous European countries have begun altering the way they conduct professional development for teachers (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2005). However, the United States has yet to realize the effect that critical self-reflections can have on teachers' effectiveness in the classroom (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). Teaching students how to reflect and develop metacognitive skills is a difficult but worthy task (Tanner, 2012).

New teachers need to be inducted into the teaching profession with mentors who can help them with pedagogy and content (Fieman-Nemser, 2003; Greiman, 2010; Robinson, 2010), especially those who have little teaching experience and are considered novices. Research suggests that when compared to experts, novice teachers "showed more time-consuming, less efficient planning, encountered problems when attempts to be responsive to students led them away from scripted lesson plans, and reported more varied, less selective post lesson reflections" (Borko and Livingston, 1989, p. 473). Lieberman and Mace (2010) argued that professional development opportunities should exist "that use professional learning communities, center on the study of practice, and incorporate the use of technology" (p. 77). One approach for potentially rich and impactful professional development for teachers is the use of the lesson study method (LSM) (Fernandez, 2002; Lewis et al., 2006).

LSM "brings together groups of teachers to discuss lessons that they have first jointly planned in great detail and then observed as they unfolded in actual classrooms" (Fernandez, 2002, p. 393). LSM assists teachers in learning from their own practice through reflection (Fernandez, 2002). The purpose of LSM is to allow teachers within a particular discipline to collaborate in identifying a common problem that students struggle to solve and develop a unified lesson that addresses the problem. Once developed, teachers critique each other on the delivery of the lesson to students. At the end of each lesson, teachers reunite to reflect and modify the lesson plan to improve its effectiveness before re-teaching the material to a different group of students. Each teacher gets a turn at teaching the lesson to a similar age group of students. The hope is to improve the lesson's content and the teachers' pedagogical skills each time the lesson is taught. Lewis et al., (2006) stated that LSM assists teachers in learning new knowledge, improving their commitment to the art of teaching, and increasing necessary resources for lessons, thus creating an excellent mechanism for professional development (Fernandez, 2002).

Because LSM requires modeling and observation among all teachers who participate, it has implications for increasing efficacy levels regarding their teaching ability (Bandura, 1977; 1993). Therefore, this study was based on Bandura's (1977) self-efficacy theory prior to and at the end of the semester.

Self-efficacy is needed to help people achieve at performing tasks (Bandura, 1993). Self-efficacy is based on allowing people to observe a model demonstrate aspects of a task or skill and then apply that task or skill in a real life setting (Bandura, 1977). Experience in a particular domain is a key factor that impacts a person's level of self-efficacy. …

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