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Article

Historical Development of Lesson Study in Japan  

Kanako N. Kusanagi

Lesson study (jyugyo kenkyu) is an approach to professional development that originated in Japan 150 years ago. It was first introduced to the United States in the late 1990s and is now widely practiced in over 50 countries. Lesson study is often perceived as an effective form of professional development aiming to improve mathematics and science instruction, motivated by the high performances of Japanese students as evaluated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, lesson study is more than a model for professional development. Lesson study has developed dynamically over time, accommodating educational contexts and the needs of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. Nowadays, lesson study is used as an approach to lesson analysis, curriculum development, practice-oriented research, demonstration lessons, and various forms and levels of professional development. Lesson study continues to be practiced in the early 21st century as the practice is socially constructed and context-dependent; thus, lesson study is flexible in adapting to the local system. This flexibility and adaptability make it difficult to grasp the comprehensive picture of lesson study. Understanding the unique Japanese educational contexts that have supported lesson study is essential for foreign practitioners and researchers of lesson study as the lack of the necessary supporting conditions often poses challenges for implementing lesson study abroad. Lesson study continues to exist in the early 21st century as it has been facilitated by sociocultural norms in a Japanese educational context and has built upon the professional traditions of Japanese teachers. The focus is on discussing the sociocultural contexts that have supported the dynamic development of lesson study since the late 19th century. For this purpose, “sociocultural” refers to the theoretical space of social relations and cultural practice (Dowling, 2009). For example, a collaborative school culture is not a fixed state or end-product but negotiated through the social relations of the school system that regulates the daily responsibilities, actions, and interactions among managers, teachers, and students around the shared goals. Lesson study has developed under the influence of various factors, including educational theories, approaches, and ideologies, both domestically and abroad. Lesson study is supported by a holistic approach in terms of many aspects such as student learning, teacher-initiated inquiry centered on student learning, the culture of collaboration in professional development, collaboration between teachers and researchers, personal, contextual, and narrative reflection on teaching experience, and flexibility in the learning system that works to address the needs of the educational issues of the time. Nonetheless, contesting forces have contributed to the diversification of lesson study: (a) policymakers’ efforts to standardize lessons and bottom-up initiatives of teachers to experiment with practice; (b) top-down efforts to institutionalize professional development and bottom-up efforts on the part of teachers to work together to realize their educational ideals; and (c) scientific investigation by researchers and narrative, descriptive and subjective reflections on practice by teachers.

Article

Problem-Based Learning  

Sofie M. M. Loyens, Lisette Wijnia, Ivette Van der Sluijs - Duker, and Remy M. J. P. Rikers

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered instructional method, with roots in constructivist theory of learning. Since its origin at McMaster University in Canada, PBL has been implemented in numerous programs across many domains and many educational levels worldwide. In PBL, small groups of 10–12 students learn in the context of meaningful problems that describe observable phenomena or events. The PBL process consists of three phases. The first is the initial discussion phase in which the problem at hand is discussed, based on prior knowledge. This initial phase leads to the formulation of learning issues (i.e., questions) that students will answer during the next phase, the self-study phase. Here, they independently select and study a variety of literature resources. During the third and final phase, the reporting phase, students share their findings with each other and critically evaluate the answers to the learning issues. A tutor guides the first and third phase of the process. PBL is based on principles from cognitive and educational psychology that have demonstrated their capacity to foster learning. More specifically, four principles are incorporated in the PBL process: (a) connection to prior knowledge, (b) collaborative learning among students, but also among teachers, (c) gradual development of autonomy, and (d) a focus on the application and transfer of knowledge. Research on the effects of PBL in terms of knowledge acquisition shows that students in traditional, direct instruction curricula tend to perform better on assessments of basic science knowledge. However, differences between PBL students and students in direct instruction classrooms on knowledge tests tend to diminish over time. There is, however, a lack of controlled experiments in this line of PBL research. Directions for future research should focus on combining the best of both direct and student-centered instruction, explore the possibilities of hybrid forms, and investigate how the alignment of scale and didactics of an instructional method could be optimized.

Article

The Impact of International Experiential Learning and the Community and University Partnership Supporting Global Citizenship in U.S. Schools  

Elisabeth Krimbill, Lawrence Scott, and Amy Carter

As global citizens, we have an increasing international interdependence that now impacts the way we solve problems and interact with one another. Intentionally planed travel abroad has the potential to transform lives by creating a greater global and personal awareness, where adolescents see themselves as not just members of their local community, but also a global community. In an attempt to prepare students for an international and interdependent world, one inner-city nonprofit agency partnered with a local university in South Texas to provide overseas experiential learning opportunities paired with service-learning projects. Through one innovative program, more than 600 students have traveled to more than 20 countries as a full-immersion experience, most of which were centered on service-learning opportunities. The students in this program had the opportunity to examine their prejudices, assumptions, and fears while learning about themselves and developing deeper relationships with members of their school and local community through global outreach.

Article

The Adaptive Organization and Fast-Slow Systems  

Torben Juul Andersen and Carina Antonia Hallin

Contemporary organizations operate under turbulent business conditions and must adapt their strategies to ongoing changes. Sustainable performance can be achieved when the organization engages in interactive processes that link emerging opportunities to forward-looking analytics. But few organizations are able to practice this consistently. Fast processes performed by managers at the frontline respond to ongoing environmental stimuli and slow processes initiated by managers at the center interpret events and reasons about updated strategic actions. Current experiential insights from the fast processes can be aggregated systematically to inform the slow processes of reasoning. When the fast and slow processes interact they can form a dynamic system that adapts organizational activities to changing conditions.

Article

Status, Content, and Evaluation of Lesson Study in Japan on Teacher Professional Development  

Takashi Nagashima

In Japan, various styles of Lesson Study (LS) have been born over 140 years. The first issue is what should be the focus of observation in the live lesson. There are two trends with regard to the target of observation. One is teacher- and lesson-plan-centered observation since the Meiji era (1870s), and the other is child-centered observation since the Taisho era (1910s). The former is closely related to administrative-led teacher training. The latter is more complex and can be further divided into five types. The second issue is which activities are given priority in the LS processes: observation of the live lesson itself, preparation before the lesson, or reflection after the lesson. Furthermore, each activity can be designed as a personal or a collaborative process. Thus, there are roughly six types of LS in Japan related to this issue. Which type is adopted depends on the period, lesson-study frequency, and school type. In addition, it is noteworthy that the type of LS implemented is closely related to which of demonstration teacher or observers are regarded as the central learners. The third issue is whether to regard LS as scientific research or as literary research. Teachers and researchers in 1960s Japan had strong interest in making lessons and lesson studies more scientific. On the other hand, as teachers attempt to become more scientific, they cannot but deny their daily practice: making improvised decisions on complicated situations without objective evidence. Although lesson studies have been revised in various forms and permutations over the last 140, formalization and ceremonialization of lesson studies has become such that many find lesson studies increasingly meaningless and burdensome. What has become clear through the discussions on the three issues, the factors that impede teacher learning in LS are summarized in the following four points; the bureaucracy controlled technical expert model, exclusion of things that are not considered scientific, the view of the individualistic learning model, and the school culture of totalitarian products. To overcome obstruction of teachers’ education in LS and the school crisis around the 1980s, the “innovative LS Cases” has begun in the 1990s. The innovative LS aims not for as many teachers as possible but for every teacher to learn at high quality. In the innovative LS Case, what teachers are trying to learn through methods of new LS is more important than methods of new LS itself. Although paradoxical, in order to assist every single teacher to engage in high quality learning inside school, LS is inadequate. It is essential that LS address not only how to actualize every single teacher to learn with high quality in LS but also through LS how to improve collegiality which enhances daily informal collaborative learning in teachers room. Furthermore, LS cannot be established as LS alone, and the school reform for designing a professional learning community is indispensable. Finally, the concept of “the lesson study of lesson study (LSLS)” for sustainable teacher professional development is proposed through organizing another professional learning communities among managers and researchers.

Article

Blended Learning in Teacher Education  

Harrison Hao Yang and Jason MacLeod

Practices of blended learning are being wholeheartedly accepted and implemented into the mainstream processes of educational delivery throughout the world. This trend follows a large body of research that suggests blended learning approaches can be more effective than both traditional face-to-face instruction and entirely computer-mediated instructional approaches. However, in teacher education there are two important factors that influence the outcomes of blended learning; first, the articulation of differences between instructional approaches, and second, the understanding of key pedagogical strategies that support student success. Research on blended learning in teacher education should include both preservice and in-service teacher participants. Preservice teachers are individuals operating in the preparation and training stages, prior to assuming full responsibility of a professional teaching role. In-service teachers are individuals practicing as teachers that are typically still toward completion of their early career induction training to the profession. Both historical utilization and future research trends are evident through a critical analysis of the last three decades of highly cited scholarship on blended learning in teacher education. Historical utilization trends show an emergence of online and blended learning approaches, which reached nearly 30% of postsecondary education students in 2016. Future research trends include evidence-based practices, preparing for active learning classrooms, building capacity for practical training, collaborative teaching opportunities, leveraging blended learning to improve education equity, and cultivating mixed reality blended learning environments. Researchers, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers should continue to stay informed on this topic and continuously find ways to improve the application of blended learning in teacher education.

Article

Lateral Thinking and Learning in Arts Education in the Post-Internet Art  

Lynda Avendaño Santana

Lateral learning in the last two decades can be seen in peer-to-peer learning that is being promoted by new technologies where there are apps that allow students to work together in real time through virtual space, a method which thereby shifts the focus from the solitary self to the interdependent group which lives an educational experience of a collaborative and distributed nature, whose focus lies in instilling the principle of the social nature of knowledge. The ideological bases of lateral thinking are sustained by issues such as emancipation of the student from the authority of the teacher, the relationship of collaboration, permitting the development of individual appreciations and ideas, based simultaneously on those of their peers, on the democratization of knowledge, and so on, which ultimately refers to a collaborative creative education, to a democratic education, and to an education for democracy that assumes the new technologized context in which we live. Because of this, lateral thinking is increasingly influencing everyday life and areas such as education and the arts, as it happens in the post-Internet art, and more specifically net.art (i.e., an online art), which is a collaborative creative experience that has become an instrument which allows us to see a “new type of art in the 21st century.” Net.art, Internet art and the most experimental design, therefore constitutes a community experience that hypertextualizes computerized languages and generates poetic perspectives as artistic practices of lateral thinking. It has bestowed upon us a series of mechanisms to devise collaborative development strategies for lateral learning based on those creative ludic educational experiences of using and interacting with new technologies. This is essential to bear in mind because, as Jeremy Rifkin says, collaborative learning helps students to expand their own self-awareness, including their “self” in reference to diverse “others,” and promotes in-depth participation in more interdependent communities. It extends the territory comprised within the boundaries of empathy.