Towards a comprehensive pedagogical theory to inform lesson study: an editorial review

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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. Its main purpose 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 articles 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.
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 Alexanders 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).
Research Implications: 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.
Practical Implications: This review article 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318 - 327
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • variation theory
  • learning motivation
  • planning by objectives
  • principles of procedure
  • dialogic teaching
  • democratic pedagogy
  • accelerated learning

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