Lesson Study for College Teachers: An Online Guide

Are Learning Goals the Same as Teaching Goals?

Teaching goals and learning goals are not the same thing. Learning goals specify student habits of mind, intellectual capacities, personal qualities—in essence what students will know, what they can do and what they will be like. Teaching goals focus on what teachers do (e.g., to explain specific content to students). The practice of lesson study involves a shift from teaching goals to learning goals—from thinking about what one does as a teacher to how students interpret the subject and how they will respond to teaching.


Teaching Goal Examples Learning Goal Examples
  • Cover topic x in a single class period
  • Present concept y in an engaging manner
  • Students can analyze and explain problem x or concept y
  • Students understand concept x, and are able to distinguish it from common misconceptions
  • Students can use their understanding to solve problems or develop a perspective

Sample Learning Goals from Different Disciplines

  • Students can analyze and explain human behavior in terms of relationships among multiple factors (Psychology)
  • Students understand how marginality is linked to supply by examining diminishing returns & evaluating effect on marginal cost (Economics)
  • Students can revise their drafts by identifying and evaluating main ideas and entering into critical conversations with peers (English)



©2004 Bill Cerbin & Bryan Kopp, All Rights Reserved.