A framework for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons

There are only few studies on teachers’ professional development that involves providing teachers with a research-based lens through which they can analyze and think about their lessons. In this paper.

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor The Lesson Study Program of the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) was honored as one of UP Diliman’s Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensyon...

World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017

NISMED staff as well as teachers from partner schools presented papers at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017 held at Nagoya University, Japan on 24-17 November 2017.

PALS Inaugurated

The Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies (PALS) Inc. was inaugurated on 10 December 2016 at the Pearl of the Orient Tower in Manila.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

PALS and UP NISMED Hold First National Convention on Lesson Study

Three hundred thirty teachers, school administrators, educators, and research students from all over the country attended the first national convention on Lesson Study in the Philippines hosted by the Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies, Inc. (PALS) and the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (UP NISMED) on 11-12 April 2019 at the UP NISMED auditorium. 

With the theme Lesson Study: Collaboratively Improving Practice One Lesson at a Time, the convention provided a forum for the participants to share their Lesson Study (LS) experiences and outputs and to learn from those of others. The event also sought to inspire more teachers and schools to do LS, to publish their research lessons and contribute to the country’s teaching and learning resources, and to encourage research on LS that is adaptive and responsive to Philippine school settings.

Dr. Christine Kim-Eng Lee of the National Institute of Education in Singapore and Immediate Past President of WALS gave the keynote address titled Moving Beyond the Surface Features of Lesson Studies: The Experience of Singapore Schools. 

Lesson Study, according to Dr. Christine Lee, is about opening the lesson to fellow teachers and to school administrators and, in so doing, allowing “extra eyes” to see how children experience the curriculum. What Lesson Study does is “keep the students at the heart of a professional development activity.” 

Dr. Lee narrates how the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore followed a global trend in adopting Lesson Study as a form of teacher-led professional development activity. Citing a school-based implementation of Lesson Study in Singapore, she underscores the need to go beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and focus instead on issues of quality. 

An important highlight in Dr. Lee’s keynote is her characterization of potential sources of dilution of Lesson study. One potential source, she says, is teachers’ giving too much emphasis on the planning of the research lesson “forgetting to situate it as part of a series of lessons in a unit of work.” Other sources, she says, include inadequate attention given to studying relevant curriculum materials and literature related to the topic, the struggle to identify a research theme and carry out the research, inadequate use of evidence during observation, and lack of teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. 

Dr. Lee concludes by challenging the audience to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and to give more premium to depth than breadth. In essence, it is a challenge to “embrace the substance and spirit of Lesson Study” seen through the lens of teachers gaining knowledge about how students learn, developing new understanding of content and pedagogy, and reflecting on their work and their learning. 

The convention featured plenary talks, symposia, panel discussions, and poster presentations. Dr. Masami Isoda of the University of Tsukuba, who also serves as adviser to PALS, gave the talk School Curriculum Management for the Establishment of Learning Community on SEAMEO Curriculum and Teacher Standards. Dr. Manabu Sumida of Ehime University spoke about collaborating in LS beyond the classroom and presented a web-based app that he developed which enables collaborative analysis of video lessons. Dr. Wataru Hanai of Fukui University spoke about reflective LS and professional learning communities. Dr. Arif Hidayat of Indonesia University of Education shared LS experiences and classroom teaching research in Indonesia. Dr. Teodora Salubayba and Dr. Marlon Ebaeguin of the University of the Philippines encouraged the conduct of local research during their talks on action research and design-based research approach, respectively. 

Dr. Masami Isoda presented a comparison between teacher standards as defined by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and those of the Philippine standards as presented in the symposium led by the group of Dr. Soledad A. Ulep. He described the approach in the Philippine standards as learner-centered and highly proficient, while that of the SEAMEO standards proposes different standards for different subject areas. SEAMEO, he said, describes the play but does not discuss the progress. 

Dr. Isoda observed that while the teaching of content in mathematics is taught through exercises, the process of thinking or the “way of thinking” can only be taught through reflection. 

In the plan, do, and see cycle of LS, Dr. Isoda asked the audience which part is most important to them. He cited the case of Japan where subject-based LS is the most important to them. In subject-based LS, there must be a theme and objective. If a lesson plan does not have a theme and objective, he said, then it is hardly considered a lesson study plan at all but only a lesson plan. He also asked the participants to enlarge a Japanese character for “haru” or spring using a ruler. He explained how the simple activity lets students apply different strategies of learning. He then presented the teacher standards of Okinawa, Japan which defne the multifaceted roles that teachers take: a public servant, a teacher, and an educator. 

Dr. Manabu Sumida, who is currently the Director of the Japan Society of Science Education, introduced the use of web-based collaborative lesson study system which he developed. He also discussed the advantages of doing Lesson Study taking into account different foreign perspectives. He mentioned a double-edged sword in LS which situates different models of lesson study as both benefitting from standardization and, at the same time, struggling with keeping up with the latest research trends. 

Dr. Sumida’s web-based application allows teachers to watch videos of LS implementation and do video analysis during their free time. Using the app, he was able to showcase sample videos featuring activities of students from Ehime University while teaching students of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. According to Dr. Sumida, links to these videos are sent to teachers and observers to study and comment on. In the same manner, these comments can also be downloaded and analyzed for further study. 

Dr. Sumida also shared a key finding from a study which showed Japanese students performing well in the science component of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) despite their lack of interest in science subjects. 

Dr. Wataru Hanai delivered the plenary session titled Reflective Lesson Study and Professional Learning Communities. The presentation focused on how reflective lesson study (LS) is carried out within professional learning communities in Japan as attributed to the Japanese culture. Dr. Hanai reiterated that there is a need to reconstruct the basic learning mode in schools from the ‘traditional content-transmission mode’ to ‘content + inquiry-based competence-formation’ approaches of learning. He also emphasized that the teachers’ collaborative learning in schools, long-term reflective lesson study, and professional learning community are key in creating a new learning culture in this century, leading to educational change and reform. 

In Dr. Hanai’s presentation, he underscored the importance of reflectiveness in 21st century education; as such, it should be situated at the heart of key learning competencies. His talk also focused on the process and organization of a long-term reflective lesson study in Fukui, Japan where teachers write a longitudinal reflective practice report and reflect on the students’ learning from a long-term perspective. Dr. Hanai presented different perspectives on the process of change in schools’ learning culture. He also highlighted the need to re-appreciate the meaning of school-based lesson studies and learning studies. 

During the open forum, Dr. Hanai elaborated on how teachers who are part of a reflective study group write their individual reflective report on the lessons they opened through lesson studies, focusing on their students’ learning progress in these lessons. Then, at the end of the year, these teachers gather to work as a reflective group and share their reports. This practice, according to him, enables changes in teachers’ lessons which also lead to changes in student learning. 

Dr. Arif Hidayat of the Department of Physics Education at the Indonesia University of Education delivered the plenary session titled From Lesson Study to Learning Improvement: A Case of Indonesia. The presentation is based on a team research he conducted with Dr. Hendayana and Dr. Supriatna that focused on the identity of learning in LS. Dr. Hidayat pointed out that teachers should mind student thinking and listen more to student dialogues. This, he said, must be implemented as well in conducting reflective LS, keeping in mind that every single person in the LS group should be a star and that all voices must be heard. 

Dr. Hidayat enumerated new movements that aspire for higher quality LS. He emphasized the significance of collegiality in LS practices. He said that in LS, teachers must be observers instead of models. In his view, a great LS is not about high quality lesson but about accepting the challenge to improve it together. In their research, Dr. Hidayat’s team hoped to promote the landscape shift of understanding in education from teacher-centered to learner-centered. He shared the case of Indonesia, where LS became an activity system in schools. 

Dr. Hidayat concluded by sharing learning improvement topics such as the changing roles of teachers and students as knowledge builders and knowledge creators, respectively. He also challenged the audience to keep up with current initiatives such as his own Indonesia Consortium for Learning Improvement (ICLI) whose aim is to organize an activity system of LS that is more academic and supportive of an active community. 

In her talk, Dr. Teodora M. Salubayba shared insights and recommendations on integrating action research into lesson study. Dr. Salubayba presented an actual action research done in a school. She specifically described the action research process that was carried out in that school and the problems that arose. She mentioned that clashes of ideas between and among persons involved in the action research usually lead to discord. In many cases, she documented members initially doing action research becoming less involved later on and that, sometimes, the completion of the action research is left on the initiative of only one person. 

Dr. Salubayba’s talk delved into the intricacies of action research and its similarities with lesson study. One similarity she said is that, like in action research, one of the goals of doing lesson study is to make teachers more independent in doing research. Another similarity is that, like in lesson study, one of the challenges in doing action research is to make the group work harmoniously and productively. More than the clash of ideas, the problem in doing lesson study may come from a clash of personalities among those involved. She further mentioned that teachers in public schools in general, have a hard time accepting criticisms, and for that among other things, she thinks that doing action research on lesson study could be a good idea. 

Dr. Marlon Ebaeguin presented his study about the way he and teachers from two high schools used Design-Based Research (DBR) as a methodology in implementing Lesson Study with culture as intervention. He holds that in order to attain more teaching success and sustainability, research on contextualizing LS in the Philippines has to be done continually. He cited what he called the ‘big disconnect’ between educational research and what we observe in teachers’ practices, and between the general lack of understanding of Lesson Study as deterrents of teacher growth and the proper implementation of Lesson Study in Philippine schools. 

Dr. Ebaeguin detailed the characteristics of a quality DBR study and its advantages over other research methods in implementing LS. Citing the flexibility of testing intervention, mixing methods, and the possibility of continuous evolution of design principles as key features of DBR, he illustrated ways by which LS can be situated in a Philippine public educational environment. With culture as intervention of LS, the bases for the design of the research program are more carefully considered and structured. He emphasized that with all these features, there should be expected variations in the implementations and results of DBR studies. He concluded by saying that DBR can support LS by pointing to ways in which research on LS needs to be undertaken. 

The three symposia organized by local researchers, educators, and teachers focused on the following topics: 1) Lesson Study as vehicle for teacher leadership development in the public schools; 2) Fostering collaborative professionalism; and 3) From tensions to institutionalization: Lesson Study in higher education institutions

The first symposium titled Lesson Study as Vehicle for Teacher Leadership Development in Public Schools was facilitated by the team of Ms. Maylani L. Galicia, the Assistant Division Superintendent of the City Division of Tayabas, Albay. Her co-presenters were Mathematics teachers from three different schools in Albay namely, Ms. Brenly B. Mendoza and Mr. Ryan T. Casulang (from Ligao National High School, LNHS); Ms. Geylen M. Abainza (from Marcial O. Rañola Memorial School, MORMS); and Ms. Ma. Salve B. Rosal (from Libon Agro-Industrial High School, LAIHS). 

The symposium focused on LS as a vehicle for teacher leadership development in LNHS, MORMS, and LAIHS. The team took pride in sharing how the Schools Division Office of Albay competed for the BEST Innovation Fund Grant in 2018 and was awarded PHP 1M for the project LS in Mathematics and Science. Through this grant, videography became a supplementary feature in their LS implementations. The presenters also highlighted how lesson study in Albay has progressed from an offshoot training with UP NISMED staff in 2011 up to the present. 

The first speaker, Ms. Mendoza, shared the LNHS LS goal to make students value mathematics by developing their thinking skills. Based on their LS research, positive impacts on content, pedagogy, and attitudes of the 16 LS implementers/researchers have been observed during the implementation of LS in LNHS. The next speaker was Mr. Casulang whose presentation focused on how LS can serve as a tool to improve oneself as a teacher. According to him, the introduction of LS to LNHS was a big boost to the teaching competence and abilities of his fellow mathematics teachers. The third speaker, Ms. Abainza, described LS in Albay as really growing. For her, a good thing about LS implementation is for educators to be able to reflect on their practice through pictures and videos. She ended her presentation by quoting Robert John Meehan who said: The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives. 

The last speaker was Ms. Rosal. The focus of her presentation was to show how LS contributed to the development of leadership capacities among teachers in LAIHS. She pointed out some key learnings from their LS implementation. According to her, LAIHS’ success depends on institutional support, attitude, working relationship among teachers, work culture and environment, acceptance of the program, and class scheduling. 

The group headed by Dr. Soledad A. Ulep led the convention’s second symposium which focused on collaborative professionalism. Dr. Monalisa T. Sasing, Ms. Richelle Anne C. Mangulabnan, Ms. Helen G. Tanio, and Ms. Julie R. Reyes comprised the rest of the group. Dr. Ulep’s introduction consisted of a short orientation on the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (2017) and its definition and elaboration of teacher quality and expectations. Later on, she emphasized the need to help teachers in their pursuit of continued personal growth and professional development. She explained that the way to help teachers with this pursuit is by giving them sustained support through collaboration, and one of the best ways to collaborate with other teachers is by engaging in lesson study. 

The group’s entire presentation revolved around the ten tenets of collaborative professionalism. These tenets are: (1) collective autonomy, (2) collective efficacy, (3) collaborative inquiry, (4) collective responsibility, (5) collective initiative, (6) mutual dialogue, (7) joint work, (8) common meaning purpose, (9) collaborating with students, and (10) big-picture thinking for all. In each of the presentations made by the other group members, the practice of these tenets was illustrated. 

Dr. Sasing’s study highlights the use of microteaching and lesson study in the implementation of lessons for pre-service teacher education. The intervention in the form of microteaching addressed some of the things pre-service teachers needed before they implemented actual research lessons. Ms. Malabnan and her co-teachers at Pinagkawitan Integrated National High School in Batangas, did a modified lesson study for their students to accomplish a project that involved four subject areas. Her group looked into the students’ ability to work well in groups. Ms. Tanio and the teachers from Diffun National High School, Ifugao Village Integrated School, and Magsaysay National High School did a lesson study on the research lesson Images Formed by Plane Mirrors. This undertaking involved several schools in the province, as well as some staff of UP NISMED. Ms. Reyes and her co-teachers at Sta. Lucia High School in Pasig City did a lesson study on various research lessons in mathematics after they attended a seminar at UP NISMED. The implementation of lesson study in their school ultimately resulted in a presentation of a paper at the World Association of Lesson Study in Nagoya, Japan in 2017. 

The third and last symposium titled From Tensions to Institutionalization: Lesson Study in Higher Education Institutions was led by the group headed by Dr. Levi E. Elipane. He is currently an Associate professor at the College of Graduate Studies and Teacher Education Research of Philippine Normal University. His team is composed of Mr. Von Christopher Chua, from De La Salle University, Dr. Leorence Tandog, Ms. Anna Jean Garcia from the University of Southern Mindanao, Ms. Geraldine Libron, and Engineer Marian Grace Veloso of the Ateneo De Davao University. 

The symposium focused mainly on how to nurture and make lesson study more sustainable in higher education institutions. According to Dr. Elipane, he has been collaborating with fellow educators from various universities to make lesson study a form of research and development initiative. His group look looked into how LS can be institutionalized by incorporating it in graduate study courses. They also do demonstration teaching and share their lesson study stories. Seminars, partnerships, and research endeavors were also offered. By doing this, their teachers and students were able to present papers in international conferences. Some were able to publish their research and received recognitions and awards. 

Mr. Chua, a student of Dr. Elipane, presented his lesson study journey during his graduate studies from 2013 to the present. His engagement in lesson study, he said, was a process of metamorphosis for him. In 2013, he found himself as part of a four-member lesson study team that helped other students. That initial experience led his team to write a paper as a requirement for the course. This paper was accepted to several international conferences and eventually was published in the International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies. Dr. Tandog, for his part, shared his team’s experiences in engaging teachers in lesson study through their graduate program. Seminar-workshops were embedded in their courses. From these undertakings, the students were able to produce various research outputs. In Ms. Garcia’s presentation, she shared one of the research outputs of her graduate students which was accepted in an International Conference in Korea. 

The last to present were Ms. Libron and Engr. Veloso from Ateneo de Davao who showcased their lesson study journey which started when they attended the National Conference in Science and Mathematics Education (NCSME) at UP NISMED in 2013. Their learning process of lesson study was enriched through a series of consultations, seminar-workshops, capacity-building, and lesson implementations. Last year, the team of Engr. Veloso was able to present a paper in an International Conference in Malaysia, which also won them the Best Paper award. 

The eight poster presentations provided participants with a glimpse of LS activities around the country. 

The convention is an initial undertaking of PALS which now has over 500 members all over the country. Plans for the second convention which include activities such as parallel presentations and open class or school visit, are now underway.

Professor Christine Lee Keynotes First National Convention on Lesson Study

Lesson Study, according to Dr. Christine Lee, is about opening the lesson to fellow teachers and to school administrators and, in so doing, allowing “extra eyes” to see how children experience the curriculum. What Lesson Study does is “keep the students at the heart of a professional development activity.” Thus starts the keynote address of Dr. Lee during the First Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies (PALS) on 11-12 April 2019 at UP NISMED. The theme of the convention is, Lesson Study: Collaboratively Improving Practice One Lesson at a time.

Dr. Lee addresses the audience during the first PALS convention on 11-12 April 2019 held at UP NISMED.
Dr. Lee’s keynote address which is titled Going beyond the Surface Features of Lesson Study: The Experience of Singapore, narrates how the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore followed a global trend in adopting Lesson Study as a form of teacher-led professional development activity. Citing a school-based implementation of Lesson Study in Singapore, she underscores the need to go beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and focus instead on issues of quality.

Teachers are at the heart of educational reforms, says Dr. Lee. For this reason, Singapore’s government, as well as many other governments that adopted Lesson Study, invests heavily in the professional development of teachers. In Singapore, in particular, it is a widely held belief that “no education system can be better than the quality of its educators.” She adds that Singapore’s economy is made even more vibrant by a strong educational system in which teachers are well-trained and highly motivated.

What sets Lesson Study apart from other typical PD programs? 

Dr. Lee sees in Lesson Study an opportunity for teachers to “develop a common understanding of what good teaching practice entails.” Because Lesson Study is teacher-led, through it, they can be “actively involved in the process of instructional change and curriculum development.” Dr. Lee recognizes that an important part of the challenges she encountered when she started doing Lesson Study involves dearth of reference materials written in English. When finally she had the chance to observe classes in Japan, all the writings on the board and the conversations made are in Japanese. She gives credit to Catherine Lewis, her mentor at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, for inspiring her to bring Lesson Study from the United States to Singapore. It helps that she had with her Lewis’ Lesson Study Handbook published in 2002. What serves as impetus for the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore Schools? Dr. Lee mentions that Lesson Study is one of a few platforms used in Singapore for developing Professional Learning Communities that aspires for “leveling up teacher professionalism in a quick and effective way.” With this in mind and with the emergence of different models of Lesson Study in Japan, the U.S., Hong Kong, and other places, Singapore has come up with Lesson Study models of its own that revolve around a shared vision – models that involved entire schools.

The need to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study 

An important highlight in Dr. Lee’s keynote is her characterization of potential sources of dilution of Lesson study. One potential source, she says, is teachers’ giving too much emphasis on the planning of the research lesson “forgetting to situate it as part of a series of lessons in a unit of work.” Other sources, she says, include inadequate attention given to studying relevant curriculum materials and literature related to the topic, the struggle to identify a research theme and carry out the research, inadequate use of evidence during observation, and lack of teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Dr. Lee concludes by challenging the audience to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and to give more premium to depth than breadth. In essence, it is a challenge to “embrace the substance and spirit of Lesson Study” seen through the lens of teachers gaining knowledge about how students learn, developing new understanding of content and pedagogy, and reflecting on their work and their learning.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor The Lesson Study Program of the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) was honored as one of UP Diliman’s Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensyon at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor held on 21 June 2019 in the Institute of Biology Auditorium. The award is given to extension programs that rendered “exemplary service to the public in the form of technical assistance, extramural program, advocacy, and community mobilization, among others” (UPD Information Office, June 2019).

UP NISMED introduced Lesson Study in the country in 2003 and officially launched it in 2006. Through the years, the teacher-led and school-based professional development program has involved over 500 teachers from more than 50 schools and universities all over the country. In lesson study, teachers are involved actively in designing instruction and in developing curriculum materials. A key consideration in lesson study is collaboration. Teachers work collaboratively in planning, developing, implementing, and revising a research lesson based on a long-term goal. Dr. Aida I. Yap, Director of

UP NISMED, along with Dr. Soledad A. Ulep, former Director, and Dr. Erlina R. Ronda, Deputy Director for Research and Extension, accepted the award on behalf of UP NISMED.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A framework for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons

There are only few studies on teachers’ professional development that involves providing teachers with a research-based lens through which they can analyze and think about their lessons. In this paper, I present a framework, adapted from research, for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons and illustrate its use by teachers for assessing a lesson. The teachers’ version of the research-based framework I propose here aim to add to this repertoire of tools for this kind of work. The development of this framework is part of a larger research project that involves developing of a research-informed lesson study model for mathematics teachers in Philippines. The project is in its initial stages and its first focus is the research lesson. In lesson study, the research lesson is the shared space and the object under investigation of the teachers. It is considered the critical mediator of professional learning hence the importance of having a practical but theory-based framework to serve as lens to teachers in analyzing the research lesson particularly the quality of the mathematics lesson.

Dr. Ronda presenting the MDI framework at the WALS Conference 2018

In the study, quality of mathematics lesson is defined in the study in terms of two interrelated components: the quality of the mathematics and the quality of mathematics instruction. The word quality refers to an attribute of something (x) or a standard of x. A framework for analyzing quality mathematics lesson should therefore capture both sense. There are a number of frameworks in the field that have been used in analyzing mathematics lessons (Charalambous & Praetorius, 2018) but the framework that responds to our notion of quality mathematics lesson and at the same time aligns with the sociocultural perspective of the study is the mathematical discourse in instruction (MDI) framework (Adler & Ronda, 2015). The MDI framework consist of five interacting cultural tools of instruction namely task, examples, naming, legitimations and learner participation that together mediates the object of learning of the lesson.

Our description of quality of mathematics in the study is a function of a view of mathematics as a form of scientific knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978) which is characterized by its generality, structure, consistency and symbolic systems. The study focuses particularly to its generality attribute. This is to foreground to teachers that generality or generalizing is an important goal and means to understand mathematics. Opportunities to generalize are visible in the selection and sequencing of examples, in the problematic in the tasks, in the choice of words to refer to the mathematical aspects in the instructional talk, and the extent to which claims are substantiated mathematically. On the other hand, attributes of quality of mathematics instruction include learners’ participation, coherence of the lesson and explicit connections. Indicators of standard for each of these attributes were developed building from those in the MDI framework. In the presentation, I will discuss the framework with more detail and exemplify its use. Preliminary analysis showed aspects of mathematics and aspects of its instruction that were foregrounded including those not captured by the framework.

References Adler, J., & Ronda, E. (2015). A framework for describing mathematics discourse in instruction and interpreting differences in teaching. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 19(3), 237-254. doi:10.1080/10288457.2015.1089677

Charalambous, C. Y., & Praetorius, A.-K. (2018). Studying mathematics instruction through different lenses: setting the ground for understanding instructional quality more comprehensively. ZDM, 1-12.

Keywords: Professional Development, Mathematics Instruction, Analytic Framework, Lesson Study Model, Research lesson

This paper was presented at the World Association of Lesson Studies International Conference 2018 at Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China on 23-26 November 2018.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Use and misuse of technology in teaching science: Issues on teachers’ epistemology and ICT integration in the teaching-learning process

by Rolando Tan

While the ubiquity of the World Wide Web continues to pervade society, digital content also increases paving the way for the information superhighway as a platform for educational experiences for everyone having online access (Myers, 2011). Even if the student-centered learning environment offered by ICT runs counter to the position of traditional teachers who demand a high degree of interaction with their learners, the role of digital technology will continue to develop and grow in this century (Oliver, 2003; Mura and Diamantini, 2014). It cannot be denied that such growth can be due to the fact that these “technologies extend into everyday life of people” (Kubiatko and Halakova, 2009 p. 743). Therefore, “the integration of technology in the classroom is viewed as an important strategy to increase the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process.” (Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014, p. 26)

Recent studies have shown that the use of ICT has produced positive results in the educational process. There have been reports that use of interactive CD-ROM, graphing software, and Power Point presentations was able to foster conceptual understanding among students (Kubiatko and Halakova, 2009). Peat and Taylor (2005) state that “ICT provides greater educational flexibility by creating learning environments that are accessible to individuals with a variety of learning styles at anytime and anyplace.” (p. 21). Based on the studies done by Pernaa and Aksela (2009), the use of ICT does not only arouse student interest but also improves research skills.

While positive reviews from the use of ICT are valid reasons for its integration in the educational landscape a lot of challenges have to be addressed in order to fully appreciate the benefits of its use in the teaching-learning process. A study on teachers’ perception on the use of ICT has shown that teachers felt a need to be trained on the didactic use of ICT (Mura and Diamantini, 2014; Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014). Among the impediments cited are “educator stress, limited teachers experience with ICT and opportunities for continuing teacher education and professional development, lack of technological tools in schools, lack of knowledge about the actual benefits of ICT in educational situations, limited opportunity for a regular use of technology and teachers’ limited skills and lack of confidence regarding the use of ICT” (Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014, p. 27)

On the other hand, Mishra and Koehler (2005), stated that “introducing technology to the educational process is not enough to ensure technology integration since technology alone does not lead to change.” (p. 132) and that “good teaching is not simply adding technology to the existing teaching and content domain.” (p. 134). Historical accounts of technology integration were about development of “product technologies” like computers and educational television or films that support the transmissive models of teaching---students as receptacles of knowledge to be filled up. Furthermore, studies showed that teachers’ use of technology in teaching is aligned to their own personal theories about their pedagogy (Salleh, 2015). When a science teacher thinks that scientific knowledge is just a body of information that needs to be transmitted to her pupils without any regard to their preconceived ideas about the natural world, she could possibly use technology that will support her pedagogical approach and therefore runs counter to the inquiry-based, constructivist strategy that fosters deeper understanding of science concepts.

Hence technology, when used in science education, can only be effective if it is aligned to the appropriate pedagogical underpinnings of inquiry and constructivism. Mishra and Koehler therefore extended Shulman’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge to acknowledge the relevance of technological knowledge with pedagogy and content and came up with a new framework called Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge or TPACK. Incorporating knowledge of content, pedagogy with technological knowledge, TPACK is “the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones.” (Koehler and Mishra, 2009, p. 66). In other words, what matters is not just the use of technology, but rather the effective use of technology in teaching the content.

The importance on the effective use of technology became an important issue in this lesson study that involved the use of ICT facilities in teaching an elementary school science concept for Grade 3. A group of Grade 3 teachers intended to plan a research lesson on how the human ear works. Prior to the planning stage, they first attended a seminar-workshop on inquiry-based teaching where features of inquiry were modeled instead of lecturing its conceptual framework. Seminar workshop concluded with a research lesson as the final output of the workshop. The lesson implementation of the program formed part of the second phase as the research lesson they planned during the workshop will be tested through an actual lesson implementation in their respective schools. Staff from NISMED observed the lesson implementation of the drafted research lesson plan.

The research lesson focused on the sense of hearing as part of the first quarter lessons on the senses. The aim of their research lesson was to make the pupils describe the function of the different parts of the ear. An animated video showing how the different parts of the ear work when a person is listening to an object producing a sound was shown as the first part of the activity.

Figure 1
Pupils watched the animated video about how the ear works. The questions pupils answered were listed below as part of the activity sheet:

What can loud sound do to our ear? _______________________ 
How is the pinna shaped? ______________________________ 
How do we call the hole in the outer ear? ___________________ 
How does the eardrum look like? _________________________ 
What happened as soon as sound waves hit the eardrum? __________ 
How do the three tiny bones react when eardrum vibrates? __________
On which part does the mechanical movement of the ear occur? ________
Name the three main parts of the ear __________________________ 

Post training report showed teacher’s reflection as well as the inputs of NISMED staff (DOST-SEI & UPNISMED, 2013) regarding the first implementation of the research lesson:
  • One of the teachers who observed the class felt that the video should have been in the latter part of the discussion and that the second activity using the ear model should be tackled first. She reasoned that the ear model provides a more concrete way of understanding of how the ear works as she believes that teaching should begin first from concrete to abstract. NISMED staff as well as school officials also agreed on the suggestion of this teacher.
  • One of the NISMED staff observed that the use of the model generated a response different from what the model intended to generate. It was explained to the teachers that when the box was hit the air was expelled from the hole and exerted a force on the plastic sheet making the table tennis ball move. Hence, when asked about what made the table tennis ball move, the students, in being honest to what they observed, answered “air”. It was made clear to the teachers that the hole should not have been there to avoid creating movement by air pressure.
  • NISMED staff also pointed out that the use of video defeats the purpose of discovery because the video already presented everything and the children would just have to listen to everything the video shows. It was pointed out that the activity should be personally experienced by the students to make it more inquiry-based. Regarding the unruly behavior of students in an activity, it was suggested that the ear model activity can be videotaped instead and the students could be asked to observe it carefully or the teacher herself can conduct a demonstration to make all the students get a more or less uniform observation. It was also suggested that the video can only be used in the latter part where sound travels already through the three tiny bones to the cochlea and transmit the message to the brain via the auditory nerve. 
The changes agreed upon for the second implementation of the research lesson plan were incorporated in the revised research lesson plan. The sequence of the activity was changed: it started with an examination of the classmates’ ear to describe the anatomy of the external ear. The hands-on activity on how the eardrum receives the sound waves using a manipulative model was carried out so that the pupils will be able to see how the eardrum functions when it receives the sound. The video was then finally shown so that the inner ear and their function can be understood by the pupils after the sound reached the eardrum and the ossicles represented in the model.

Post lesson discussion taken from the post training reports revealed interesting feedback from the lesson study group (DOST-SEI & UPNISMED, 2013).
  • NISMED staff saw an improvement in the second implementation of the lesson as there was a change in the sequence of the activity agreed upon during the first post lesson conference two weeks before. The questions possess inquiry features. Responses from the students became more authentic especially when the student candidly remarked “nanginginig” to describe the movement of the table tennis ball in the ear model. Furthermore the students were now able to infer that it is the sound that causes the movement of the plastic sheet and the table tennis ball because of the modifications the teachers did in the box in order to prevent air from gushing out that could make the plastic sheet and table tennis ball move instead of by sound waves.  
  • During the PLD, the teacher who first implemented the lesson said she preferred the version she implemented because the revised research lesson is too difficult; teachers would not be able to elicit the students’ responses that will lead to the science idea intended for the students to learn. When she was asked why she thought the showing of the video should come first, she stated that children do not have the needed information in their minds. In her own words she said in the vernacular, “Mas mabuti kung may video kasi kahit papaano may alam na agad sila” (It would be better that there is a video so that somehow they will have some knowledge right away). 
  • The guest principal from Maharlika Elementary School expressed her disagreement with the opinion of the first implementing teacher since these children have actively thinking minds and the activity elicits what goes in the minds of the students. According to her, this is important because thinking skills or science process skills are supposed to be assessed on the inquiry-based approach to teaching science. 
  • NISMED staff also affirmed the guest principal’s epistemological point of view when it comes to inquiry-based instruction. The teacher who implemented the research lesson first was told that there can be two views on how a teacher sees her students: either as empty vessels that need to be filled with information or as actively thinking minds capable of constructing their own ideas and schema. She was told that a teacher who thinks that children are just empty vessels to be filled with information will resort to that kind of approach where information is directly given to them with no need of processing while a teacher who believes that children actively construct their ideas would resort to an inquiry type of approach. 
Despite the positive reviews, the teacher in the first implementation still preferred the first version of the research lesson, citing the difficulty of making the pupils elicit the correct response during the second implementation. When she was asked why she still preferred the use of the video first instead of the eardrum model, she stressed that pupils would already have a ready answer when the teacher asks them the questions. This is commonly observed on teachers who perceive children’s minds as “tabula rasa”(empty slate) instead of considering children’s minds as having non-traditional ideas regarding the natural world (Wenning, 2008). In relation to this, Yero (2012) explained teachers’ view pervading pedagogical practice and beliefs:

“One of the most pervasive beliefs in mainstream education is that knowledge is objective (it exists in some pure form outside the mind) and that the task of education is to transmit the "essential" portions of that knowledge to students. These bits of meat picked from the rich stew of human thought are found in curriculum and standards documents. They have become separated from the thought processes that generated them and from the contexts in which they were shaped. In essence, they are now perceived as "collectibles", rare antiques that must not be altered in any way lest they become less valuable. “Until educators confront that belief, the wealth of scientific evidence that knowledge is internally-generated and that "transmission" of knowledge objects is ineffective will receive no more than lip-service. Teachers may cognitively accept the research, but it will not significantly affect their practice. Piaget's theory of internally-generated knowledge was received with great enthusiasm by many educators. What they failed to recognize was that the belief underlying the theory was diametrically opposed to the belief that knowledge exists "out there." Attempting to apply Piaget's ideas without also adopting his belief system, teachers would first "give" students the "facts" and then assign a prespecified activity in which the students were supposed to "mess about" with those facts. Where was the student given the opportunity to "internally generate" anything?” (para. 7-8)

Mishra and Koehler (2005) point out that mere addition of technology in the instructional practice cannot induce change and pedagogical reforms. The post lesson discussions in this particular lesson study affirm their stand. This lesson study, further reveals how important teachers’ pervasive beliefs about children’s minds are when technology is integrated in science education. While studies have shown that the use of ICT in education helps promote student interest (Passey, Rogers, Machell & McHugh, 2004), student interest is not a guarantee that inquiry-based instruction is promoted inside the classroom (BSCS, 2005). It is therefore a challenging role for the Knowledgeable Other (KO) to explain to the lesson study group that features of inquiry must be promoted when using technology instead of technology becoming a tool for transmissive approaches to learning.


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Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) & University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) (2013), “Report of follow-through phase 2 of the DOST-SEI project hands on teaching and learning of science through inquiry (HOTS)”, unpublished manuscript, Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) & University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED), Quezon City. 

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Monday, January 21, 2019


by Aida I. Yap 

This paper reports the results of the implementation of a research lesson developed by a group of Grade 1 teachers. The teachers participated in a professional development program on lesson study that aims to enable teachers to collaboratively engage in innovative teaching practices and document this in terms of teaching and learning materials. The program was divided into two phases. Phase I was a four-day seminar-workshop on lesson study. Participants from the same school collaboratively developed a research lesson. Phase II was the school-based implementation of two research lessons.

The first research lesson, which was developed by the teachers in Phase I, was implemented three months after the seminar-workshop while the second one was implemented three months after the first visit. Only the results of the implementation of the first research lesson are presented here. The first research lesson was on basic shapes. The objectives of the lesson were: (1) to identify, name, and describe the four basic shapes in 2- and 3-dimensional objects, and (2) to compare and identify 2-dimensional shapes according to common attributes. The lesson was implemented thrice. After each implementation, a post-lesson reflection and discussion was conducted to reflect and share observations on what happened during the implementation. Suggestions for improvement were incorporated into a revised research lesson, which was implemented the very next day.

Results reveal significant changes in the behaviors and teaching practices of the teachers and in the ability of the students to describe the basic shapes in their own words. In the first two implementations, the teachers wrote the description of each shape in words on the board and asked the pupils to read. This did not result to more participative students and the learning of the concept. The teachers decided to implement the research lesson for the third time. They want to know what will happen if they change the presentation of the description of each shape by using a table. This revision worked well with the students, as they were able to describe each shape in their own words and see the similarities and differences of the shapes by just looking at the data presented in the table. As a consequence, the students enjoyed doing the group activity and were eager to present their output. The teachers realized that they have to be flexible to affect student learning and to foster communication of students’ ideas.


Inprasitha, M., et al. (Eds.). (2015). Lesson Study: Challenges in mathematics education. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

Isoda, M., & Katagiri, S. (2012). Mathematical Thinking: How to develop it in the classroom. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

The paper was presented at the 8th ICMI-East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education held at Taiwan International Convention Center, Taipei, Taiwan on 7-11 May 2018.