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Article
Publication date: 30 September 2014

Po Yuk Ko

Variation Theory has been used as a source of guiding principles for pedagogical design, lesson analysis and improvement in Learning Study (LS). The purpose of this paper…

Abstract

Purpose

Variation Theory has been used as a source of guiding principles for pedagogical design, lesson analysis and improvement in Learning Study (LS). The purpose of this paper is to argue that the LS approach provides an important opportunity for teachers and researchers not only to improve the teaching strategies together but also refine the Variation Theory in action.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study of teaching writing in Chinese at Primary 4 level of a LS project is selected using analysis of covariance to identify lessons that had significant differences in student learning outcomes. Analysis focuses on examining one of the major claims in Variation Theory which is that “contrast should precede generalization” in order to explore if this argument is able to provide a possible answer to the difference in student performance in the two classes of students of similar ability learning the same topic. Teachers’ contribution to the discussion of the application of the theory is analysed to explain the different teaching strategies chosen.

Findings

The case study shows that in a LS platform, teachers’ teaching act and their interaction with theorists contributed to a dual process of developing the practice as well as the theory itself. The results of students’ learning serve as evidences for the claim that “contrast should precede generalization” as the theory suggested.

Originality/value

Most of the lesson study and LS projects emphasize teachers’ learning through the participation in the process. This paper illustrates that in conducting LS approach, when there is conscious effort to direct discussion toward how to handle the content in terms of Variation Theory explicitly, the result could contribute to the development of the theory itself. Hence, the LS provides an important opportunity for teachers and researchers to refine strategies as well as theories of teaching and learning together.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Anja Thorsten

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how teachers’ practice knowledge is used as a tool in a Learning Study and how teachers’ practice knowledge is challenged by using…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how teachers’ practice knowledge is used as a tool in a Learning Study and how teachers’ practice knowledge is challenged by using Variation Theory as a tool in the process?

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on data from the research process in a Learning Study. The data consists of meeting notes of ten research meetings, field notes of the research meetings and from the enactment of the lessons, video recordings of the lessons and reflective notes after and between the meetings. The analysis is qualitative and the findings are described in themes.

Findings

Teachers’ practice knowledge was used and challenged in different ways in the process. This is described in five themes. Teachers’ practice knowledge was visible in the process since it enabled relevant questions to be addressed and subtle signals from students to be taken into account. It also ensured that the activities used were suitable for the students. The theory provided a focus on the object of learning and a language to talk about teaching and learning. It also challenged teachers’ assumptions about teaching and learning and allowed them to be discussed.

Originality/value

The paper addresses both teachers’ practice knowledge and Variation Theory in relation to a Learning Study. It focusses on how practice knowledge of teachers can be used and challenged in the same process. The perspective is from the inside, from a teacher researcher’s point of view.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2011

Mun Ling Lo and Ference Marton

One important contribution of variation theory to learning study is that it brings the focus of the learning study sharply on the object of learning and provides a…

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Abstract

Purpose

One important contribution of variation theory to learning study is that it brings the focus of the learning study sharply on the object of learning and provides a theoretical grounding to understand some of the necessary conditions of learning. The purpose of this paper is to argue that variation theory can serve as a guiding principle of pedagogical design.

Design/methodology/approach

Data from two case studies are used to support the argument.

Findings

This paper shows that variation theory is indeed a guiding principle; what the teacher is supposed to do in the classroom does not follow mechanically, as exemplified by two learning study cases. The first example shows that the principles of variation theory imply what features of the object of learning has to be invariant and what should vary in the students' experience. However, this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for learning. The second example shows also that even if one is aware of the pattern of variation and invariance needed, still it might take quite a bit of ingenuity to bring it about.

Originality/value

Teachers need a sound theory to help them make wise decisions about teaching. Variation theory provides a theoretical grounding to understand some of the necessary conditions of learning, so that wise pedagogical decisions can be made. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of variation theory and its application in practice. Furthermore, the paper also shows that while a learning theory enhances the quality of a lesson study, a lesson study can also provide a platform for the testing and application of a learning theory.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Erwin Maria Gierlinger, Harald Spann and Thomas Wagner

The purpose of this paper is to scrutinise the potentials and challenges of variation theory when adopting learning study in Austrian initial EFL (English as a Foreign…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to scrutinise the potentials and challenges of variation theory when adopting learning study in Austrian initial EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher education.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a hermeneutic and epistemological approach, projects, and publications employing variation theory in the context of EFL are critically evaluated.

Findings

Variation theory and learning study turn out to have great potential for EFL teaching and learning in Austria. However, three critical issues need further conceptual and empirical research before new learning cycles can be implemented and evaluated: the object of learning, the SLA-variation theory interface, and the roles of variation theory on different educational levels.

Originality/value

By identifying and discussing important critical issues within the current practice of variation-theory-oriented EFL teaching, this study could lead to further theoretical and empirical deliberations in various areas of modern language teaching. This in turn could help pave the way for both the development of theoretical underpinning and methodological refinement, ultimately fostering international co-operations in implementing learning cycles.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2015

John Elliott

This editorial review takes its agenda from issues about the meaning and use of variation theory in the context of Lesson Study, which have already been raised in previous…

Abstract

Purpose

This editorial review takes its agenda from issues about the meaning and use of variation theory in the context of Lesson Study, which have already been raised in previous issues of the journal. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a way of resolving such issues by locating variation theory in a broader framework of pedagogical theory. Runesson’s editorial commentary on papers in the special issue on the uses of pedagogical and learning theories in the context of Lesson Study suggest that they challenge the presumption that variation theory can be used as a basis for pre-specifying learning objectives in advance of teaching. This raises the issue of which approach to teaching the theory can be matched with; namely, teaching viewed as a technology or teaching viewed as an interactive process with students in which ends cannot be specified independently of the process. Also Hogan’s review of two recent books about Lesson and Learning Study in issue 4.2 raises the issue about the extent to which the examples supplied abstract the experience of learning from questions about students’ motivation and attitudes in classrooms. Hogan suggests that the widespread use of learning theories, such as variation theory tends to distort the concept of learning employed in Learning Study by emphasizing its cognitive rather than emotional/attitudinal aspects.

Design/methodology/approach

Elliott’s approach to the above issue is to pick up on Posch’s comments in the current issue, which suggest that variation theory has implications for student motivation that need to be made more conceptually explicit in the context of Lesson and Learning Study. He argues that this can be done by integrating it into Alexander’s dialogic model of teaching and Stenhouse’s process model of curriculum development, and linking it with two related pedagogical theories that underpin these models; namely, “democratic pedagogy” (Dewey) and “accelerated learning” (Vygotsky).

Findings

Such a conceptual integration of variation theory within a dialogic model of teaching throws light, Elliott argues, on Learning Study viewed as a form of educational action research.

Originality/value

This review paper goes on to examine how the Lesson Studies depicted in Issue 4.4 can be located in the light of the pedagogical framework and perspectives proposed.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 4 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2012

John Elliott

The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of lesson study for the development of a science of teaching cast in the form of John Dewey's “laboratory model” of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of lesson study for the development of a science of teaching cast in the form of John Dewey's “laboratory model” of learning to teach.

Design/methodology/approach

The early sections compare the “laboratory” with the “apprenticeship” and “rationalist” models of learning to teach, which emphasise the primacy of practice and theory respectively. The unity of theory and practice embodied in the “laboratory model” is outlined, linking the development of teachers’ theoretical understanding with the development of their practice. A distinction between pedagogy and teaching is drawn. The later sections examine the potential of lesson study to develop as a teachers’ based pedagogical science, particularly when informed by variation theory. The paper concludes by suggesting ways in which different theories of learning can be integrated into learning study, and points to ways in which particular studies can contribute to the systematic construction of pedagogical knowledge.

Findings

There can be no pedagogy without casting teaching as an experimental science, in which pedagogical theories are appropriated, tested and further developed as a source of pedagogical principles. Pedagogy therefore consists of a science of teaching in which teachers actively participate in knowledge construction. Lesson study when informed by an explicit learning theory, such as variation theory, provides a strong basis for the development of a practitioner‐based science of teaching.

Originality/value

The paper creates original links across disparate work in the field of teaching and learning.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2019

Miechie Miechie, Yuen Sze Michelle Tan and Douglas J. Adler

The purpose of this paper is to report on the approaches teacher candidates (TCs) took to craft the object of learning and the critical aspects when applying variation

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the approaches teacher candidates (TCs) took to craft the object of learning and the critical aspects when applying variation theory, in planning science lessons. It addresses the difficulty TCs often face in determining what students could learn when crafting the objects of learning and the critical aspects.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 27 science TCs from an initial teacher education (ITE) were introduced to variation theory and collaborated in groups of four to five to plan lessons. Data included recordings of the lesson planning session and fieldnotes, TCs’ lesson plans and individual semi-structured interviews. Phenomenography as a methodology was employed to capture the variation in the TCs’ approaches in crafting the objects of learning and the critical aspects, resulting in categories of description that illustrated the complexity of the lesson planning process the TCs engaged with.

Findings

Arranged in hierarchical order, the three categories of description include TCs: analysing content knowledge in order to promote conceptual learning; reflecting on personal experiences and beliefs about teaching and learning; and drawing on external resources to develop knowledge about students.

Practical implications

The ways the TCs engaged with lesson planning constituted valuable resources to build their capacity to differentiate between superficial content engagement and deep conceptual learning.

Originality/value

The study reports on the potential of framing ITE discourse using variation theory to support TCs’ engaging with science teaching that is more conceptual-based, while increasing their sensitivity to students’ common conceptions that constrained the learning of canonical science.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Article
Publication date: 10 October 2016

Eddie W.L. Cheng

The epistemology of project management has been considered imperfect because the gap between theory and practice has not become closer due to unsatisfactory project…

Abstract

Purpose

The epistemology of project management has been considered imperfect because the gap between theory and practice has not become closer due to unsatisfactory project performance. Without effective learning, the transfer of learning to the workplace would be uncertain. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to use the learning study approach, exploring the value of Variation Theory in comparing two typologies of the cost concept for project management teaching.

Design/methodology/approach

To illustrate the application of the theory of variation, a case of teaching the two major cost typologies was demonstrated. A pedagogical setting was designed from the theory for helping students discern the object of learning.

Findings

Students of the target cohort had much fewer errors than previous cohorts in transforming the costs of the first typology used in project management textbooks to those of the second typology used in Microsoft Project.

Originality/value

This is perhaps the first case study to appreciate the use of Variation Theory in project management teaching. Apparently, thinking of how to induce learning and facilitate the transfer of learning should be a productive way for creating excellence in practice.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2014

Samantha A. Conroy, Nina Gupta, Jason D. Shaw and Tae-Youn Park

In this paper, we review the literature on pay variation (e.g., pay dispersion, pay compression, pay range) in organizations. Pay variation research has increased markedly…

Abstract

In this paper, we review the literature on pay variation (e.g., pay dispersion, pay compression, pay range) in organizations. Pay variation research has increased markedly in the past two decades and much progress has been made in terms of understanding its consequences for individual, team, and organizational outcomes. Our review of this research exposes several levels-related assumptions that have limited theoretical and empirical progress. We isolate the issues that deserve attention, develop an illustrative multilevel model, and offer a number of testable propositions to guide future research on pay structures.

Details

Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-824-2

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Book part
Publication date: 25 April 2014

Gerlese Åkerlind, Jo McKenzie and Mandy Lupton

This chapter describes an innovative method of curriculum design that is based on combining phenomenographic research, and the associated variation theory of learning…

Abstract

This chapter describes an innovative method of curriculum design that is based on combining phenomenographic research, and the associated variation theory of learning, with the notion of disciplinary threshold concepts to focus specialised design attention on the most significant and difficult parts of the curriculum. The method involves three primary stages: (i) identification of disciplinary concepts worthy of intensive curriculum design attention, using the criteria for threshold concepts; (ii) action research into variation in students’ understandings/misunderstandings of those concepts, using phenomenography as the research approach; (iii) design of learning activities to address the poorer understandings identified in the second stage, using variation theory as a guiding framework. The curriculum design method is inherently theory and evidence based. It was developed and trialed during a two-year project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, using physics and law disciplines as case studies. Disciplinary teachers’ perceptions of the impact of the method on their teaching and understanding of student learning were profound. Attempts to measure the impact on student learning were less conclusive; teachers often unintentionally deviated from the design when putting it into practice for the first time. Suggestions for improved implementation of the method are discussed.

Details

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research II
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-823-5

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