Frequently Asked Questions
Is there evidence that Lesson Study improves student achievement?
Lesson Study has been shown to have impact on many important outcomes..
Studies show a significant positive impact of Lesson Study on student achievement in subjects including mathematics and language arts. It has also been shown to have positive effects on teachers, increasing their subject knowledge, their experience of collegial learning, and their belief that students can succeed.
Like any other approach, Lesson Study can be done well or poorly. It produces impact on student learning when done well.
To read some of the published data and papers on Lesson Study and its effectiveness, see Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of Math Professional Development Approaches and Lesson Study Comes of Age in North America as well as other work in our Research section.
How much time does Lesson Study require?
Lesson Study begins with preparing the team and then moves through a cycle of four phases: Study, Plan, Teach, and Reflect. The whole cycle will take the team a minimum of 10 hours, and many teams prefer to spend 20 hours or more.
A substantial amount of that time is spent up front, in the “Study” phase—but much of the work in this phase is spent building knowledge that will be broadly useful in the future, not just in the planning of the Lesson Study lesson.
What subject areas can Lesson Study be used with?
Lesson Study can be used in all subject areas. In Japan, where the method was invented, Lesson Study is used in all academic disciplines and for subjects including art, music, class meetings, character development, community-building activities, and physical education.
Why would we spend so much time planning just one lesson?
As part of the Lesson Study process, your team will research a unit within your curriculum and plan and teach one lesson within the unit, with the goal of bringing to life what you have learned about the content, its teaching and learning, and the larger vision of student learning you are seeking to build.
Lesson Study dedicates time to examining how students learn, investigating current research and curriculum materials, and observing how new methods affect teaching and learning. This knowledge, and learning new ways to communicate and work collaboratively, are the main products of Lesson Study.
How was Lesson Study invented?
Lesson Study has been practiced in Japan for more than a century, and is so central to their teaching and learning that teachers there find it hard to imagine how they would teach without it.
The process was introduced to the English-speaking world in 1997 and 1998 in publications by Catherine Lewis and Ineko Tsuchida, and came to widespread international attention when The Teaching Gap and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) both began to showcase the achievements of Japanese education.
From that time, Lesson Study has been embraced by groups of educators in the U.S. and around the world.
Where can I learn more?
The Conduct a Cycle section of this website offers step-by-step support to conduct a Lesson Study cycle. For a more comprehensive print resource. For a more comprehensive print resource, see Lesson Study Step-by-Step: How Teacher Learning Communities Improve Instruction.
This website also collects research and other publications about Lesson Study in its Resources section.
If you’re looking for more in-depth opportunities to explore particular facets of Lesson Study, you may be interested in trying one of our Courses.