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Monday, February 8, 2016

CARLA Fellow Presentation: Language Instructors Learning Together: Using Lesson Study in Higher Education

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
12:20 - 1:10 p.m.
University International Center 101

Research on professional development overwhelmingly suggests that instructor learning is maximized through sustained involvement in active learning. This type of participation allows instructors not only needed time to absorb and conceptually integrate new ideas, but more importantly, to practice that new knowledge in the contexts relevant to their work (Garet, Porter, Andrew & Desimone, 2001; Guskey, 2000; Opfer & Pedder, 2011). It can be challenging to design these types of meaningful environments for language instructors in higher education, particularly in the less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) where individuals may be sole representatives of their language.

In response to this challenge, the author brought together a small inquiry group composed of college instructors of Arabic, Japanese, and Korean (for a total of five individuals). Drawing ideas from both the exploratory practice model (Allwright, 2009) and the jugyou kenkyuu “lesson study” framework (Yoshida, 1999; Lewis, 2004), an inquiry cycle was designed to engage the participants in collaborative investigation of collective problems of practice. Participants first used video recordings and classroom observations to focus their attention on student learning; subsequently, transcripts of group conversations about classroom observations served to stimulate awareness of moments of teacher learning.

This paper uses an activity theory framework to address the following question: How can elements of an instructor inquiry group such as interaction patterns, transcripts of previous group meetings, and videos of classroom interactions serve to mediate language teacher conceptual development?

Analysis of interview and inquiry group meeting data suggests the efficacy of using transcripts from prior meetings as “mirrors” or “second stimuli” (Engeström & Sannino, 2010) to mediate further insight into one’s teaching practice. Further, and importantly for professional development work with instructors of LCTLs, data suggest that the multi-language nature of the group itself was a mediating factor towards language teacher conceptual development.

Presenter: Beth Dillard is a Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Education program in the College of Education and Human Development. Her research interests include teacher learning through teacher-led inquiry, the academic language development of language learners, and content-language integration in language classrooms. Beth was selected as a CARLA Fellow for 2014-2015. She also serves as the graduate PACE: Communications Coordinator for the PACE Project at the Language Center.

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