The ‘Learning Study’ model in the improvement of teaching and learning: a literature review

  • Ayşe Demirel Uçan
  • Serkan Uçan
Keywords: Learning study, variation theory, teacher professional development


The purpose of this study is to examine the role of the Learning Study Model in developing teaching and learning. The research is based on a literature review involving various Learning Studies undertaken from the 2000s onwards in various countries. The study looks into the foundations of the Learning Study Model, its aims and the application process. In a Learning Study, the aim is to deal with an object of learning in a systematic way through a number of research lessons designed in line with Variation Theory, thus bringing about an increase in students’ learning outcomes. Although, the primary purpose of learning studies is to develop student learning, it is argued that this model also plays an important role in contributing to teachers’ professional development by means of enhancing their pedagogical knowledge and skills. Overall, discussion about the outcomes of Learning Studies is presented at the latter part of the article.


Download data is not yet available.


Adamson, B., & Walker, E. (2011). Messy collaboration: learning from a learning study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 29-36.

Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain.

Educational Researcher 33(8), 3-15.

Borko, H., & Putnam, R. (1996). Learning to teach. In D.C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 673-709). New York: MacMillan.

Bowden, J., & Marton, F. (1998). The University of Learning-Beyond Quality and Competence. London, New York: Routledge.

Brown, A.L. (1992). Design experiments: theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141- 78.

Cheng, E. C. K. (2014). Learning study: nurturing the instructional design and teaching competency of pre-service teachers. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 42(1), 51-66.

Cohen, D.K., & Hill, H.C. (2000). Instructional policy and classroom performance: The mathematics reform in California. Teachers College Record, 102(2), 294-343.

Collins, A. (1992). Toward a design science of education. In Scanlon, E. and O’shea, T. (Eds.), New Directions in Educational Technology (pp. 15-22). New York: Springer, Verlag.

Davies, P., & Dunnill, R. (2006). Improving learning by focusing on variation. Teaching Business and Economics, 10(2), 25-31.

Davies, P. & Dunnill, R. (2008). Learning study as a model of collaborative practice in initial teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 34(1), 3-16.

Elliott, J. (2012). Developing a science of teaching through lesson study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(2), 108-125.

Fishman, B. J., Marx, R. W., Best, S., & Tal, R. T. (2003). Linking teacher and student learning to improve professional development in systemic reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(6), 643-658.

Guo, J. P., & Pang, M. F. (2011). Learning a mathematical concept from comparing examples: The importance of variation and prior knowledge. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 26(4), 495-525.

Hattie, J. A. C. (2012). Visible learning for teachers. Maximizing impact on learning. London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge.

Hiebert, J., Gallimore, R. & Stigler, J.W. (2002). A knowledge base for the teaching profession: What would it look like and how can we get one?. Educational Researcher, 31(5), 3-15.

Holmqvist, M. (2011). Teachers’ learning in a learning study. Instructional Science, 39(4), 497-511.

Holmqvist, M., Gustavsson, L., & Wernberg, A. (2007). Generative learning: Learning beyond the learning situation. Educational Action Research, 15(2), 181-208.

Holmqvist, M., Gustavsson, L., & Wernberg, A. (2008). Variation theory: An organizing principle to guide design research in education. In A. E. Kelly, R. A. Lesh & J. Y. Baek (Eds.), Handbook of design research methods in education: Innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning and teaching (pp. 111-130). New York: Routledge.

Holmqvist, M., Tullgren, C., & Brante, G. (2010). Defining an object of learning and the forms it appears in: the intended, enacted and lived object of learning in a learning situation. In the 4th International Multi-Conference on Society, Cybernetics and Informatics. Proceedings Volume,

I. Orlando, Florida, USA; Winter Garden, FL, USA: International Institute of Informatics

and Systematics.

Holmqvist Olander, M., & Nyberg, E. (2014). Learning study guided by variation theory: Exemplified by children learning to halve and double whole numbers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 28(2), 238-260.

Kirkman, J. (2014). The potential of learning study to enhance initial teacher education and continued professional development at the University of Birmingham. Accessed online March, 12, 2017 at centres/U21-learning-study-report.pdf

Kullberg, A. (2010). What is Taught and What is Learned. Professional Insights Gained and Shared by Teachers of Mathematics. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis: Goteborg.

Kullberg, A. (2012). Students' open dimensions of variation. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(2), 168-181.

Kullberg, A., Martensson, P. & Runesson, U. (2016). What is to be Learned? Teachers’ Collective Inquiry into the Object of Learning. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 60(3), 309- 322.

Lewis, C. (2000). Lesson study: The core of Japanese professional development. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (2000 Annual Meeting). New Orleans, LA.

Lewis, C. (2005). How do teachers learn during lesson study?. In P. Wang-Iverson & M. Yoshida (Eds.), Building our understanding of lesson study (pp.77-84). Philadelphia: Research for Better School Inc.

Lo, M. L. (2009). The development of the learning study approach in classroom research in Hong Kong. Educational Research Journal, 24(1), 165-184.

Lo, M. L., Chik, P., & Pang, M. F. (2006). Patterns of variation in teaching the colour of light to Primary 3 students. Instructional Science, 34(1), 1-19.

Lo, M. L., Pong, W. Y., & Chik, P. M. P. (2005). For each and everyone: Catering for individual differences through learning studies. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Marton, F. & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. Marton, F. & Lo, M. L. (2007). Learning from “the learning study”. Tidskrift för Lärarutbildning och

Forskning, 14(1), 31-44.

Marton, F. & Pang, M. F. (2006). On some necessary conditions of learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(2), 193-220.

Marton, F. & Pang, M. F. (2013). Meanings are acquired from experiencing differences against a background of sameness, rather than from experiencing sameness against a background of difference: Putting a conjecture to the test by embedding it in a pedagogical tool. Frontline Learning Research, 1(1), 24-41.

Marton, F., Runesson, U. & Tsui, A. (2004). The space of learning. In Marton & Tsui (Eds.), Classroom discourse and the space of learning (pp.3-43). Mahwah, NJ, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Marton, F., & Tsui, A. B. M. (2004). Classroom discourse and the space of learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Pang, M. F. (2006). The use of learning study to enhance teacher professional learning in Hong Kong. Teaching Education, 17(1), 27-42.

Pang, M. F. (2009). Using the learning study grounded on the variation theory to improve students’ mathematical understanding. Journal of Education (JED), 1(1), 1-13.

Pang, M. F. (2010). Boosting financial literacy: Benefits from learning study. Instructional Science, 38(6), 659-677.

Pang, M. F., & Ling, L. M. (2011). Learning study: Helping teachers to use theory, develop professionally, and produce new knowledge to be shared. Instructional science, 40(3), 589- 606.

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.

Pang, M.F. & Marton, F. (2005). Learning Theory as Teaching Resource: Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Economic Concepts. Instructional Science, 33(2), 159–191.

Pang, M. F. & Wing, W. K. (2016). Revisiting the Idea of “Critical Aspects”. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 60(3), 323-336

Richardson, V. (1996). The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach. In J. Sikula, T. Buttery,

& E. Guyton (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 102–119). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.

Runesson, U., Kullberg, A. and Maunula, T. (2011). Sensitivity to student learning – a possible way to enhance teachers’ and students’ learning?. In Zaslawski, O. and Sullivan, P. (Eds.), Constructing Knowledge for Teaching Secondary Mathematics (pp. 263-78). London: Springer.

Runesson, U., & Gustafsson, G. (2012). Sharing and developing knowledge products from Learning Study. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 1(3), 245-260.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-23.

Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York: Free Press.

Tan, Y. S. M. (2014). A researcher-facilitator's reflection: Implementing a Singapore case of learning study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 44-54.

Vikström, A. (2008). What is intended, what is realized, and what is learned? Teaching and learning biology in the primary school classroom. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19(3), 211-233.

Wood, K. (2000). The experience of learning to teach: changing student teachers’ ways of understanding teaching. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 32(1), 75-93.

Wood, K. (2013). A design for teacher education based on a systematic framework of variation to link teaching with learners' ways of experiencing the object of learning. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 2(1), 56-71.

Yoshida, M. (1999). Lesson Study: A Case Study of a Japanese Approach to Improving Instruction through School-Based Teacher Development, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.
How to Cite
Demirel Uçan, A., & Uçan, S. (2017). The ‘Learning Study’ model in the improvement of teaching and learning: a literature review. International Journal of Curriculum and Instructional Studies (IJOCIS), 7(13), 89-110.