EDEV_507 Week 5 Initial Post

Now the focus moves over to qualitative research.

Oshima, J., Horino, R., Oshima, R., Yamamoto, T., Inagaki, S., Takenaka, M., … Nakayama, H. (2006). Changing Teachers’ Epistemological Perspectives: A case study of teacher–researcher collaborative lesson studies in Japan. Teaching Education, 17(1), 43–57. http://doi.org/10.1080/10476210500527931

Locating a qualitative study for this week’s task in the field of epistemic cognition is a tough proposition. The foundational works of Perry (1970), Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1987), King and Kitchener (1994) and others are book length works that derived their data from qualitative interview methodology. The difficulty of generating theory through quantitative methods was understood early on, and the task of overcoming the methodological issues consumed researchers since the mid-1990s (Hofer & Pintrich, 2002). The result is a paucity of qualitative studies in epistemic cognition. (Also, the disciplinary control of educational psychologists may explain this paucity due to the predominance of quantitative methods there.) I selected Oshima et al.’s (2006) study of the epistemological development of a Japanese teacher during his two-year experience on a Lesson Study programme.

Epistemic cognition, in the sense used by Greene, Sandoval and Bråten (2016) to refer to issues in the content, trajectory and beliefs about personal epistemology, has hardly been studied in the Japanese context. Why this is so is puzzling (B. Hofer, personal communication, 26 October 2016), but one reason may be to do with the prominence of the Lesson Study (Yoshida, 1999) methodology in the Japanese education system. Lesson Study is a method of teacher development that involves a community of teachers with varying degrees of expertise and experience who discuss better ways to teach subject content and concepts to students (Pang & Marton, 2003). In these discussions, participants attempt to predict student difficulties and weaknesses and suggest techniques to overcome these issues (Oshima et al., 2006). Although personal epistemology is never labelled explicitly, it is conceivable that students’ epistemic cognition is recognised by experienced teachers and addressed within the conceptually separate theories of subject content and concept. Furthermore, as Oshima et al. (2006) orthogonally imply, matters of personal epistemological development may be more relevant to teachers’ growth rather than that of students.

Oshima et al. (2006) collected video data as well as team meeting reports and interviews with Teacher Y. They coded these documents (without explicating their methods) and generated event-level codes (Charmaz, 2006; Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). Teacher Y’s utterances were categorised into an array of three by two to reflect Pedagogic, Subject Matter and Epistemological content directed at either individual members (locally) of the Lesson Study team or to the team globally at three discrete times. Teacher Y exhibited a categorical shift in his personal epistemology which was described in Oshima and colleagues both by direct reproduction of Teacher Y’s verbatim utterances and by explanation. This shift was also demonstrated quantitatively through the code count tables.

The base epistemology utilised by Oshima et al. (2006) was the change in the number of codes over the three time periods. In Time 1 (group discussion on Lesson 1), Pedagogical issues were coded 113 times but 332 times in Time 3. Epistemological issues, likewise, saw a statistically significant increase from 17 in Time 1 to 159 in Time 3. Subject Matter issues, however, did not see any dramatic changes over the two-year period (see Table 1).


Subject Matter


Lesson 1 (Time 1)




Lesson 2 (Time 2)




Lesson 3 (Time 3)




Table 1. Discourse event frequencies of different types of knowledge (from Oshima et al. (2006).

The construct of epistemological development is shown in the operationalisation of the variables (i.e. the codes). However, Teacher Y’s role in the discussions changed in each Time from being an observer (in Time 1) to a leader (in Time 3). Arguably, Epistemological content would differ depending on the role of Teacher Y and not be a function of any individual epistemological development.


Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., & Tarule, J. M. (1987). Women’s Ways of Knowing (Tenth Anni). New York: Basic Books.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. Professional Development in Education (7th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. http://doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2011.643130

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016). Handbook of Epistemic Cognition. New York: Routledge.

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing. Mahwa, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Oshima, J., Horino, R., Oshima, R., Yamamoto, T., Inagaki, S., Takenaka, M., … Nakayama, H. (2006). Changing Teachers’ Epistemological Perspectives: A case study of teacher–researcher collaborative lesson studies in Japan. Teaching Education, 17(1), 43–57. http://doi.org/10.1080/10476210500527931

Pang, M. F., & Marton, F. (2003). Beyond “lesson study”: Comparing two ways of facilitating the grasp of some economic concepts. Instructional Science, 31(3), 175–194.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Yoshida, M. (1999). Lesson Study: A Case Study of a Japanese Approach to Improving Instruction Through School-Based Teacher Development. University of Chicago. Ph.D. Thesis.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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