Lesson Study for College Teachers: An Online Guide

Lesson Study for College Teachers

Imagine a set of well-designed lessons for the core concepts and topics in a course you teach. And, what if each lesson came with information about how to teach the lesson, how students typically perform, and suggestions for improving the lesson. Rather than create lessons from scratch, instructors could adapt existing lessons to their own circumstances and refine them further for use by others.

A step in the direction of building a pedagogical knowledge base, lesson study investigates how students think and respond to our instruction. Teachers observe the kinds of difficulties and problems students commonly experience in the classroom. Even when lessons—or our attempts to study them—do not go as planned, they help us understand on how teaching affects student learning and development.

The lesson study process culminates in the following:

  • A Lesson. Designed with specific learning goals in mind, your lesson provides an outline of teacher and student activities, annotations on how to respond to student learning challenges, and a brief rationale.
  • A Study. Your study will describe your strategies for gathering evidence of student learning, share findings from your observations and research, and draw conclusions about how students progressed toward learning goals.

Your write-up should focus on the final (usually second) iteration of your lesson study process. Lesson studies will be published on the Lesson Study Project website for use by other teachers and researchers in your discipline or field. We encourage teams to explore additional venues for publication and presentation of lesson study work. See sample publication venues in different disciplines.

In Japan the National Institute of Education Research compiles more than 4,000 research papers written by and for classroom teachers annually. Join our effort to create a similar knowledge base for college teachers in the United States.

College Lesson Study


Support for the UW-La Crosse Lesson Study Project comes from the UW-La Crosse Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor, the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development (OPID) and the UW System Leadership Site for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.




©2004-2005 Bill Cerbin & Bryan Kopp, All Rights Reserved.

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