The distinctive nature of the project is that it concerns problem solving in mathematics, that is, the process of tackling extended, unstructured problems that require students to model situations with mathematics, make reasoned assumptions, construct chains of reasoning and interpret solutions in context. This has not been prominent in reported uses of lesson study around the world, including in Japan. The tendency is to focus on concept development.
The PISA series of international comparative studies has raised the profile of problem solving in mathematics and this is reflected in recent changes to the National Curriculum and GCSE specifications, where 20-30% of assessment will in future be expected to have problem solving as its focus.
In the project research lessons, the focus will be on students developing mathematical problem-solving skills rather than building specific mathematical content knowledge. The pilot project identified that developing lessons focused on the learning of the key processes in problem solving is demanding and is much less well understood than developing lessons focused on concept development. This focus will be central to the professional development of teachers across the project's lesson study communities.