Developing Mathematical-Task Knowledge through Lesson Study

Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joanna Masingila


lesson study, mathematical tasks, mathematics, teacher learning

Subject Categories



In Japan, lesson study is a powerful and effective form of professional development that has helped teachers successfully implement changes to the national curriculum. For that reason, it is reasonable to assume that lesson study can help schools and teachers implement the Common Core State Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice in the United States. Yet, lesson study can take on many forms and can be difficult to integrate or adapt effectively to improve instruction. This research study explored case studies of five teachers at a K-6 public, elementary school as they went through the process of lesson study, developed mathematical-task knowledge, and made changes to their instruction. Mathematical-task knowledge includes the knowledge needed to use worthwhile, cognitively demanding mathematical tasks to increase students’ conceptual understanding and to provide students with rich opportunities to learn mathematics. Data included: (1) classroom observations and semi-structured interviews with teachers before and after lesson study, (2) video and observational notes of all lesson study meetings, and (3) classroom and lesson artifacts. This study answers the following research question: How does lesson study contribute to the development of teachers' mathematical-task knowledge, including teachers’ abilities to understand, select, modify, and implement cognitively demanding tasks? Findings revealed how features of lesson study created unique pathways for learning for each teacher. Each teacher added to their understanding of worthwhile mathematical tasks in different ways. Features of lesson study prompted teachers to collaborate on solving and analyzing tasks that varied in terms of cognitive demand, to anticipate student strategies, to explore curricular resources, to observe students working on challenging tasks, and to collect evidence on student thinking demonstrating students’ understanding, difficulties and misconceptions. As a result these teachers reflect on their knowledge and practice, and altered the way they selected or modified mathematical tasks. Findings demonstrated that many of the teachers still required support around implementing tasks and facilitating mathematical discussion to support student thinking. Further lesson study cycles and inquiry around mathematical tasks and mathematics instruction would enable these teachers to continue to develop their knowledge and make lasting changes to their instructional practice.


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