Building a Knowledge Base for Teaching: Design and Test of Research-Based Toolkits for Mathematics Lesson Study

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE)
October 2006 – September 2009

Project Overview

Early evidence suggests that access to high-quality mathematical resources contributes to the success of lesson study sites. This project developed and tested two “toolkits” designed to help lesson study practitioners access mathematics teaching-learning resources.

The toolkits focus on two topics in elementary-middle school mathematics (area of polygons and proportional reasoning) and include a variety of resources drawn from research, such as lesson videos, mathematical tasks, student work, and research articles.

The research addressed four major research questions:

Study Setting & Population

The sample included 20 lesson study groups from 4 states, recruited via existing connections from prior collaboration, lesson study listserves and professional networks. These sites ranged widely in urbanicity, socioeconomic status, and racial composition.

Research Design and Methods

In the early phases of research, we assembled toolkits from materials recommended by mathematics education researchers and educators, and tested these materials during a one-week summer workshop. The toolkits were revised based on data collected during the summer workshop. Subsequently, 10 lesson study groups conducted lesson study using each toolkit. Data collected from sites included: meeting reports from participants and observers, artifacts from lessons (e.g., lesson plans, mathematical tasks, worksheets, and student work), and pre- and post- teacher assessments. Comparison data were collected from non-participating local teachers. Four intensive-study sites were observed and videotaped.


Reports of these findings are currently under journal review. A brief summary of findings can be found here, but please contact either Catherine Lewis or Rebecca Perry for additional information or copies of instruments. Additionally, products from this study include two lesson study toolkits, one focused on proportional reasoning and one on area of polygons. Click here for additional information about the toolkits. Once you have had the opportunity to review and/or use these materials, we welcome and encourage your feedback. Please email us at