PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a systematic literature review of recent studies of the implementation of Japanese lesson study beyond Japan, reviewing evidence of impact and robustness of the studies. Two studies of the implementation of lesson study from outside the timeframe for the literature review are also reviewed in detail, in order to explore the problematic nature of impact evaluation of lesson study.Design/methodology/approachA systematic literature review of 154 English language studies of the implementation of lesson study with in-service teachers beyond Japan published between 2006 and 2016 identifies 56 as a measuring impact. A lesson study-specific adaptation of Guskey’s (2000) five levels for the evaluation of professional development enables an analysis of the types of impact measured. An analysis using the Maryland Scientific Method Scale (MSMS) enables a review of robustness. Two recent robust studies from beyond this timeframe are then analysed in detail in terms of their framing of lesson study as an intervention and selection of related impact measures.FindingsThe literature review and subsequent analysis shows that studies are largely small-scale US case studies ranking as 1, or “least robust” on MSMS. Studies demonstrate the impact of lesson study on teacher learning and positive reactions, but little evidence of it making a difference to teaching, nor of the impact on schools’ professional learning cultures and structures, is present. The detailed analysis of the two recent studies shows that there are many potential pitfalls for researchers to avoid when measuring the impact of lesson study, specifically in relation to distinguishing lesson study as a professional development intervention, and measuring its impact accordingly.Research limitations/implicationsThe systematic review is limited to articles available in the English language, and there is a clear bias towards the USA. The study suggests that future research on lesson study in the UK and beyond should evaluate the implementation of lesson study over a larger scale, gather evidence of the difference lesson study makes to daily teaching and learning, and to its effect on school culture and structures.Practical implicationsThe study suggests that researchers should pay careful attention to the fact that lesson study is not an end in itself, merely a means to achieve an identified change to teaching and learning, and design impact measures accordingly.Originality/valueUnlike other systematic reviews of lesson study, this study analyses the impact evidence for lesson study that might be seen as most relevant to its introduction in cultural and structural contexts beyond Japan. It also explores in detail the potential pitfalls of lesson study impact evaluations, offering guidance to both practitioners and researchers.
International Journal of Lesson and Learning Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 7, 2019
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