Lesson Study for College Teachers: An Online Guide

Step 3: Plan the Research Lesson

Lesson planning is by and large a self taught, private activity in higher education; teachers tend to “prepare for class” without input from colleagues. Lesson Study provides an opportunity for teachers to benefit from one another's pedagogical knowledge.

In the planning stage, team members usually begin by sharing how they have taught or would teach the lesson, discussing and debating the merits of different types of class activities, assignments, exercises and so forth. To keep the focus on student learning, though, teachers also pool their knowledge of how students in the past have learned or struggled to learn the topic at hand. Once past experiences and personal approaches are on the table, the team can begin to design a Research Lesson that will help students achieve the chosen learning goal.

Throughout the process, teachers practice what Cerbin has dubbed "cognitive empathy" (*). Cognitive empathy involves looking at the subject matter from the student’s point of view, working to understand how students learn. When planning the lesson, teachers predict how students will perceive, interpret and construe the subject matter and the lesson activities. Lesson plans are designed in way that anticipates student responses in terms of learning, thinking and engagement. See a sample lesson plan with predictions of student responses.

Does lesson study prescribe teaching methods or strategies?
What if we decide to use a pre-existing lesson?

Does the team actually "script" the lesson?


Documenting Progress

  1. What are the steps of the lesson? Include descriptions of main activities, prompts, and estimated times for each part of the lesson. (See sample.)
  2. In what ways was the lesson designed to help students achieve the learning goal?
  3. Predict how students will respond to the lesson.
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