Situation Report – Quality Impact Studies of Lesson Study and pupil learning outcomes

Following a debate on Twitter about the state of randomised control trial research into Lesson Study, I am posting this summary of the current situation as I see it for information.

Lesson Study (LS) is a relatively new phenomenon outside Japan. It has been in development in the US for 16 years and in the UK for 13 years. @DylanWiliam is correct. There is not enough RCT-standard research on the impact of interventions on pupil learning outcomes that use LS as the vehicle for teacher learning. Xu and Pedder’s comprehensive literature review in my recent book ‘Lesson Study: professional learning for our time’ (Dudley, 2015) notes the immaturity of the current medical model research base for LS, because LS is still relatively new.

However, Perry and Lewis’s 2011 RCT using LS in teaching of fractions was validated by the US ‘What Works (research) Clearing House as demonstrating a positive effect of LS on pupil knowledge. It was one of only 2 studies submitted across the US that passed the clearing house test so it comes with a high quality mark.

We also have to remember that LS operates on teacher learning and practice development - it is not a curricular or pedagogical intervention. LS is a teacher learning intervention. If you use LS well with a high impact pedagogical intervention there will be more impact than if you use it well with lower impact interventions. However, LS does play a key role in evolving and honing interventions for specific classrooms and pupils (Dudley, 2013). Large scale research into the impact of LS on pupil outcomes is now well underway.

UK examples of such large scale RCT research in progress include:
• An Education Endowment Fund project run from Edge Hill University is researching the effect of LS + ‘guided learning’ pedagogy in upper KS2 in 90 schools across England.
• An RCT being conducted by CUREE for the DfE involving 800 across England is looking at narrowing gaps – one of the interventions on trial is Lesson Study. Both projects will report in 2015.

Our KS2/KS3, Camden based, pan-London London Schools Excellence Fund Lesson Study research with the University of Cambridge on higher order attainment in the new mathematics curriculum is a control group study. It will report in 2015 and 2016. Indications so far are positive - after three Lesson Studies the L5+ attainment in 2014 KS2 tests in project schools rose by 3 ppts against a 1% rise on non project schools in Camden.

If anyone has more information on medium or large scale RCT studies involving Lesson Study please do get in touch with this website or by Twitter below.

Pete Dudley
9 Nov 2014.

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