Applying learning study to unravel the pedagogical myths in special education

Ka Wai LEUNG, Po Yuk KO, Meng Choo LAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


As a response to the ‘one curriculum for all’ principle put forward by the Curriculum Development Council, special education teachers are adopting the mainstream curriculum framework and units to plan their lessons (Li, Tse & Lian, 2009). Encountering the teaching challenges in special education, teachers may have employed some misguided notions in their daily practices. Heward (2003) has stipulated ten faulty notions about teaching and learning that may hinder the effectiveness of special education. It is found that research-based teaching strategies are scarcely used (Björklund, 2012; Moscardini, 2010; Kroesbergen & Van Luit, 2003; Stough, & Palmer, 2003; Van Acker, 2006 ) and research about applying Learning Study in special school setting is limited (Cheung & Wong, 2014).This paper proposes a possible approach to catering for students with special needs, based on the Learning Study approach with Variation Theory (Marton and Booth, 1997) as conceptual framework. Mathematics teachers of five special schools were invited to apply variation theory in their teaching. ‘Making a pictograph’ was selected as the Object of Learning and its critical features were identified as informed bythe theory.The results show apparent improvement in student learning outcomes upon the adoption of Variation Theory as the guiding principle for pedagogical design. The insight gained from the experience seems to affect the teachers’ ways of seeing the object of learning, their knowledge in identifying the critical features of the learning object, their concept of discernment as a tool of formative assessment, the use of the patternsof variation in pedagogical design, mostly importantly in helping teachers unravel the pedagogical myths in special education. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of Variation Theory and its application in practice, from mainstream schools to special education. The paper concludes that the learning study model with variation theory can be a powerful framework to enhance teachers’ professionality. Copyright © 2017 World Association of Lesson Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


Leung, K.-W., Ko, P., & Lai, M. (2017, November). Applying learning study to unravel the pedagogical myths in special education. Paper presented at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


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