The study aims at exploring the perspective of three English as a Foreign Language teachers after their year-long involvement in the Lesson Study project in the context of Kazakhstan in order to capture and list any perceived changes in teachers’ educational beliefs over the period of the Lesson Study intervention. The main argument of the study suggests that the school-based Lesson Study initiative is conducive to triggering changes in teachers’ educational beliefs, and thus, might lead to positive changes in school culture in Kazakhstani schools. Shaped following Hill et al., (1982) in Swales, 1990 hour-glass model of a research project (Swales, 1990), the article reflects the third concluding part of the Ph.D. thesis focusing on the implementation of the Lesson Study methodology in Kazakhstan.
The study adopts the qualitative research design and follows the narrative inquiry methodology. The three narrative interviews (Bauer, 1996) are utilized as the main method of data collection. The data were analyzed as text following a general inductive approach (Thomas, 2003), where emerging themes were identified employing data reduction and further sub-categorized through the conceptual and theoretical lenses of the study. The emerged categories reflecting the perceived shifts in teachers’ educational beliefs were dialectically linked to implications for school culture in Kazakhstani schools.
As data suggest, the respondents’ active engagement in the Lesson Study professional learning community and exercising leadership through implementing changes in their classroom practice has made a positive impact on teachers’ rethinking their teaching practice, attitudes to students and their learning, collegiality, and professional self-identification. We conclude that, if organized properly, Lesson Study has enormous potential to facilitate changes of teachers’ educational beliefs: from direct transmission beliefs toward constructivist beliefs, from restricted professionals’ beliefs toward reflective practitioner beliefs and attitudes, toward beliefs in the power of student’s voice, and collaboration. Those shifts are linked to establishing a more positive, child-friendly and rights-based school culture with teachers’ shared visions and capacity for innovation.
We acknowledge that the abundance of the reported positive changes or perceived shifts in teachers’ thinking might not be the indicators of actual changes in their beliefs. We emphasize that the study was carried in a controlled context, i.e. the three ELF teachers were constantly supported, and the teacher talk was systematically guided by a trained facilitator. Warned by Giroux et al. (1999), we are aware of the major challenge of the fundamental assumption of critical pedagogy that teachers are willing and able to undertake “the practice of analyzing their practice” (p. 27) voluntarily. Thus, the question remains open: if the facilitator’s support is eliminated, will the results point to the occurrence of the disruption and disorientation as a necessary condition for the beliefs change?
Carried out in the largely overlooked by the academic literature context of the Reform at Scale (Wilson et al., 2013) in Kazakhstan and building on the original combination of conceptual and theoretical lenses, the research contributes to the academic literature by connecting teachers’ educational beliefs, Lesson Study and school culture. The findings might be of value for the school leaders, educators, teacher trainers, and policymakers to advocate Lesson Study as a systematic approach to the whole-school improvement, as a tool to facilitate positive changes in school culture, as well as give impetus to studies employing the school culture perspective in developing Lesson Study impact evaluation tools.
This research came to light owing to the financial aid provided by the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain) through the FPI grant.
Khokhotva, O. and Elexpuru Albizuri, I. (2020), "Teachers’ educational beliefs change through lesson study: implications for school culture", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 317-331. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLLS-04-2020-0016Download as .RIS
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