Lesson Study for College Teachers: An Online Guide

Step 2: Develop Student Learning Goals

The learning goal is the backbone of a lesson and provides the “reason” for teaching and observing it.

Teams usually begin by selecting a subject, concept, theme, or topic in the course they want to study. Many are drawn to topics that are particularly difficult for students to learn or for teachers to teach. Others select a topic that comes later in the term so they have enough time to plan and design the lesson. Still others focus on topics that are new to the curriculum or that are especially important in their fields.

Learning goals should be stated in terms of what students will understand and what they will be able to do as a result of the lesson. Goals specify desired forms of student learning, thinking, engagement, and behavior. Whatever the instructors decide to do in the class will be considered in light of the goals. Read sample goals statements.

Lessons typically have several goals. Some are specific only to the lesson itself (e.g., understand the processes of mitosis and meiosis). Other goals apply not only to the individual lesson but also to the entire course or program of study. Such goals address intellectual capacities, habits of mind and personal qualities. For example, a biology lesson that advances students' understanding of mitosis may also aim to develop students' scientific reasoning or cultivate their sense of wonder about biological phenomena. To get the most from the lesson study process, consider both lesson-specific learning goals and larger, long-term goals.

Are learning goals the same as teaching goals?
Should lesson goals relate to broader educational goals?
How does goal setting promote ownership of the lesson?

Do goals necessarily focus on academic learning?


Documenting Progress

  1. What topic will your lesson focus on? Why did you choose this topic?
  2. What specific learning goals will the lesson address? Write these in terms of what students will know and be able to do as a result of the lesson.
  3. What long-term qualities will the lesson support? These are abilities, skills, dispositions, inclinations, sensibilities, values, etc. that you would like students to develop in your program.
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