, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 581–587 | Cite as

Lesson study, improvement, and the importing of cultural routines

  • James W. StiglerEmail author
  • James Hiebert
Commentary Paper


Originating in Asia, lesson study is gradually spreading around the globe. As evident from the papers in this issue, we have much to learn as it is implemented in a variety of cultural contexts. In this article we reflect on the goals of lesson study, the organizational supports required to sustain the practice in various contexts, and the benefits that may be derived from making more explicit the connections between lesson study and the wider field of improvement science. Both research and practice can benefit from learning from, and about, the process of importing cultural routines.


Lesson study Cultural comparisons Improving teaching Research on teaching 


  1. Bruce, C. D., Flynn, T. C., & Bennett, S. (2016). A focus on exploratory tasks in lesson study. The Canadian Math for Young Children’ project. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0747-7.
  2. Bryk, A. S., Gomez, L. M., Grunow, A., & LeMahieu, P. G. (2015). Learning to improve: How America’s schools can get better at getting better. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dewey, J. (1929). The sources of a science of education. New York: Liveright.Google Scholar
  4. Douthwaite, B. (2002). Enabling innovation: A practical guide to understanding and fostering technological change. New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  5. Elliott, J. (2012). Developing a science of teaching through lesson study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(2), 108–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fernandez, C., & Yoshida, M. (2004). Lesson study: A Japanese approach to improving mathematics teaching and learning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Fujii, T. (2016). Designing and adapting tasks in lesson planning: A critical process of Lesson Study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-016-0770-3.
  8. Groves, S., Doig, B., Vale, C., & Widjaja, W. (2016). Critical factors in the adaptation and implementation of Japanese lesson study in the Australian context. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue).Google Scholar
  9. Gu, F., & Gu, L. (2016). Characterizing mathematics teaching research mentoring in the context of Chinese lesson study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-016-0756-1.
  10. Huang, R., Gong Z., & Han, X. (2016). Implementing mathematics teaching that promotes students’ underst anding through theory‐driven lesson study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0743-y.
  11. Kenney, C. (2008). The best practice: How the new quality movement is transforming medicine. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  12. Lewis, C. (2002). Lesson study: A handbook of teacher-led instructional change. Philadelphia: RBS Publishing.Google Scholar
  13. Lewis, J. (2016). Learning to lead, leading to learn: How facilitators learn to lead lesson study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0753-9.
  14. Lim, C. S., Kor, L. K., & Chia, H. M. (2016). Revitalizing mathematics classroom teaching through Lesson Study (LS): A Malaysian case study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-016-0779-7.
  15. Lipsey, M. W. (1993). Theory as method: Small theories of treatment. New Directions for Program Evaluation, 57, 5–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marton, F., & Pang, M. F. (2006). On some necessary conditions of learning. The Journal of the Learning Science, 15, 193–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Morris, A. K., & Hiebert, J. (2011). Creating shared instructional products an alternative approach to improving teaching. Educational Researcher, 40(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. (2012). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Available from
  19. Pang, S. K. (2016). Improving mathematics instruction and supporting teacher learning in Korea through lesson study using five practices. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-016-0768-x.
  20. Pang, M. F., Ki, W. W., Marton, F., & Bao, J. S. (2016). Teaching to add three digit numbers in Kong Kong and Shanghai: An illustration of differences in the systematic use of variation and invariance. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue).Google Scholar
  21. Rother, M. (2009). Toyota Kata: Managing people for improvement, adaptiveness and superior results. Blacklick: McGraw-Hill Professional.Google Scholar
  22. Smith, M. S., & Stein, M. K. (2011). Five practices for orchestrating productive mathematics discussions. Reston: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  23. Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999/2009). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world’s teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  24. Takahashi, A., & Mcdougal, T. (2016). Collaborative lesson research: maximizing the impact of lesson study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0752-x.
  25. Taniuchi, L. (1986). Cultural continuity in an educational institution: A case study of the Suzuki method of music instruction. In M. I. White & S. Pollack (Eds.), The cultural transition: Human experience and social transformation in the Third World and Japan (pp. 75–93). Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  26. Warwick, P., Vrikki, M., Vermunt J. D., Mercer, N., & Halem, N. V. (2016). Connecting observations of student and teacher learning: 
An examination of dialogic processes in Lesson Study discussions in mathematics. ZDM Mathematics Education, 48(4) (this issue). doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0750-z.

Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.College of Education, University of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations