The impact of Japanese Lesson Study on preservice teacher belief structures about teaching and learning science
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This study investigates how preservice teachers make sense of student-centered instruction with existing traditional beliefs about teaching. Teacher educators assume that university instruction translates directly into practice, yet, research is clear that beginning teachers revert to traditional teaching practice. For elementary teachers, one science methods course is assumed to be sufficient instruction in contemporary methods to successfully guide practice in their beginning years. Two main research questions are addressed: 1) Do preservice teacher belief structures change during the implementation of a Japanese Lesson Study cycle? 2) To what extent are preservice teachers teaching behaviors consistent with their belief structures? [...] To answer these questions, a case study methodology consisting of three preservice teachers, selected from a collective case study of 25 preservice teachers, was performed. The time periods of data collection were set with Lesson Study episodes. The time periods included pre-lesson study, during lesson study episodes, and post lesson study, with a conceptual framework synthesized from beliefs literature, Rokeach (1968), Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), and operationalized within the context of a Science Methods course using Richardson et al (1991) and Pajares (1992) as a guide. Findings indicate that even if preservice teachers have similar experiences with elementary science instruction, and have developed a traditional frame of reference (Kennedy, 1999) that guides their learning about teaching, each understands information idiosyncratically. When viewed in terms of Green's (1971) metaphor of belief structures, preservice teachers have widely differing frames of reference; thus, an individual's sensemaking about inquiry lessons within lesson study groups and the meaning conveyed within conversations are completely different. Ultimately, the participants in this study can be described, metaphorically, as having a Crisis of Belief (Green, 1971), an approach of Quiet Introspection, and a Crisis of Practice. For teacher educators, understanding preservice teacher understanding, and using that understanding in constructing lessons that facilitate evaluation of existing beliefs requires different lenses. The three lenses used are, Epistemological (Hewson [and] Hewson, 1984; Posner, Strike, Hewson, [and] Gertzog, 1982), Social/Affect (Pintrich, Marx, [and] Boyle, 1993; Tyson, Venville, Harrison, [and] Treagust, 1997), and an Expectational lens (Chi, Slotta, [and] de Leeuw, 1994). The selection of lenses is dependent upon the idiosyncratic nature of each preservice teacher's belief structure.