Science ReformJapanese Mathematics Instructional Model and Implications for Science Instruction
Japanese Mathematics Instructional Model and Implications for Science InstructionGerard F. Consuegra and Ramon Lopez, CoPrincipal Investigators, Science Connections, NSF LSC Project(Note: Some text was taken directly from Understanding and Improving Classroom Mathematics Instruction: An Overview of the TIMSS Video Study. J. W. Stigler & J Hiebert) The TIMSS report includes a detailed analysis and comparison of Grade 8 mathematics teaching in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Since efforts to improve student learning succeed or fail inside the classroom, considering typcial instructional approaches can be a key component of systemic change. Understanding the process of leading effective classroom instruction will contribute to improving instruction by all teachers. Critical analyses of instruction in these three countries revealed Grade 8 mathematics instruction differs significantly between Japan and the United States. Among the differences, Japanese teachers emphasize thinking where as German and U.S. teachers emphasize skills. Japanese instruction typically requires students to develop methods themselves. Furthermore, Japanese teachers give students time to struggle with challenging problems and followup with direct explanations and summaries of what students learned.
Improving teaching can be accomplished by studying various approaches and considering features that can be addressed. In that context, we might consider modifications to our teaching and specific enhancements for science instruction. During the NSF sponsored Principal Investigator/Lead Evaluator Annual Meeting of Local Systemic Change projects (January 1517, 1998), the Typical Japanese Mathematics Instructional cycle was presented and discussed. Maryellen Harmon, Boston Univeristy, suggested ways of modifying science instruction based on the Japanese model. That model is shown below with enhancements by Consuegra and Lopez.
