Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Sharon Dotger


collaboration, lesson study, Oswego Movement, principal turnover, professional learning communities, teacher professional development

Subject Categories



For the past 20 years, an increasing number of American educators have employed the Japanese model of lesson study as a process to structure their professional development experience. This study endeavored to understand how teachers experienced this relatively new and foreign process in their local contexts, using the overall research question, “How do teachers experience lesson study?” Leveraging hermeneutic phenomenology, the research was based on semi-structured phone interviews of 15 educators. These educators were from various regions in America, two from the Far East, and one from Europe. In describing their professional development experiences prior to lesson study, participants overlapped their terms, which signaled confusion. This was emblematic of their overall experiences with professional development. In general, participants found their professional development to be inapplicable, ineffective, and random. Additionally, they experienced issues sustaining their new learning even when they felt their professional development events were effective. Overall, participants believed their professional development time prior to lesson study was squandered. Participants experienced lesson study as an effective approach to professional development. Out of the 15 participants, 14 stated lesson study was the best form of professional development they experienced in their careers. They felt confident in the formal, yet flexible process. Lesson study offered the participants practice based, shared experiences learning about standards, curriculum, materials, and content fueled by structured collaboration. It changed their dispositions towards professional development. They contended lesson study assisted them in learning more about their students. Participants reported increased feelings of efficacy and professionalism after completing lesson study cycles. However, participants also described how their lesson study work was impeded by systemic obstacles including time, competing initiatives, misconceptions about lesson study, principal turnover, and interpersonal complications. This study adds information about lesson study obstacles in relation to school climate. They were frustrated by the local facilitation of their lesson study professional development. The participants found that the American system was ill-suited to support their lesson study experiences in the way that it is supported in Japan. This research informs those interested in using lesson study as a professional learning community. Further, it adds information to the discussion about professional development in general and the role of collaboration in this regard.


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