4. Plan the Study

As teams plan the lesson they also look ahead to how they will study student learning when the lesson is taught. In this phase, teams identify the types of evidence they plan to collect and decide how to observe and gather evidence of student learning.

In preparation for teaching the lesson, teams think about how to collect evidence that will help them determine how students learned and their progress toward the learning goal. Teams develop observation guidelines based on their predictions of student responses and decide what types of evidence will be collected from students.

Live observation is essential as it allows instructors to follow student learning throughout the class period, note changes in student thinking and how different parts of the lesson affect students. But teams also supplement observations with additional evidence such as written work that students complete as part of the lesson.

Teams prepare “Observation Guidelines” that indicate how to observe the lesson, whom to observe, what to focus on, and how to record observations. Observers follow the guidelines to gather evidence when the lesson is taught.

Q & A

What additional types of evidence could we collect?

In addition to direct observations of students, teams can collect other types of evidence—depending on what they want to know. You can collect students’ written responses to prompts or exercises, tallies or frequencies of specific type of behavior, examples of social interactions, and non-verbal behavior such as body posture and gestures.

Should we invite external observers and what should they do?

Outside observers will see the lesson differently from the instructors who designed it, and their observations may uncover important features the team overlooked. If you invite outside observers, it is important to brief them on the lesson and on their role as observer, and to give them a copy of your lesson plan and observation guidelines.

How are observations handled with online classes?

Online classes offer different types of access to student thinking. The most common form is student written responses, e.g., students participate in an asynchronous discussion and their writing reflects their thinking about the topic at hand. In fact, online discussions may give instructors more access to student thinking than they might have in a face-to-face class. Teams may also use technologies that allow students to interact synchronously or upload short video clips of presentations or other types of work.

Should we administer a pre- and post-test to assess student learning?

A pre and post test provide information about what or how much students learned in a class period, but not how they learned it or why they failed to learn it. If you want to measure the “amount” learned, then do a pre and post lesson assessment. However, do not substitute pre and post assessment for direct observation of students. Lesson study emphasizes not what students know before and after the lesson but instead on what takes place between the start and end of the class period—on the teaching and learning process itself.

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Lesson Study Project

Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601