Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to clarify the lesson study (LS) processes and evaluate their effectiveness in Japanese elementary and secondary (middle and high) schools, through a school survey by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of Japan (NIER). Design/methodology/approach – The authors randomly selected 1,000 elementary schools and 1,000 middle schools and 500 high schools in Japan. Survey items are methods of LS, and indicators of building professional learning communities (PLC) through LSs, close communication between teachers, high quality instruction by teachers, and test scores of students of the school. Findings – Based on the school survey in elementary and middle schools, almost all schools set up a school‐wide committee, a research theme, and a schedule for LS, and LSs were implemented as part of a school‐wide lesson study from which an action research report is produced. On the other hand, in high schools, almost all the schools implemented LSs, but each LS is independent and implemented specifically for the professional development of the individual teacher who undertakes the research lesson. The authors consider LS as a way to facilitate a PLC in the school. There are correlations between the methods of LS and the indicators of a PLC in elementary and middle schools. However, the effectiveness of LS differs between elementary and middle schools. With respect to the research theme and the organization and discussion of lesson plans, LS methods in middle schools are developed into LS methods in elementary schools. The LS methods may be developed gradually both in elementary and middle schools. Originality/value – Statistical data of LS in Japanese elementary and secondary schools are presented for the first time, demonstrating the effectiveness of LS.
International Journal of Lesson and Learning Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 4, 2013
Keywords: Japan; Primary schools; Secondary schools; Lesson study; Professional learning community; Action research; In‐service training