Navigation Bar Lesson Study Research Group Lesson Study Networking Resources Teachers College Columbia University home



  • For additional FAQs, including answers to the following questions (answers provided by Research for Better Schools & Global Education Resources), please click here:
    • What is lesson study?
    • What does a lesson study cycle look like?
    • How can lesson study impact student learning in U.S. schools?
    • Can lesson study be done at the district level, with teachers from different schools collaborating?
    • Can lesson study be done at all levels--elementary, middle, and high school--and in other subject areas beside mathematics?
    • How can a school start lesson study?
    • How can a district start lesson study?
    • How can schools and districts make time for lesson study?
    • How can teachers benefit from the observation process?
    • How can teachers benefit most from the debriefing process?
    • How can a school sustain and continue to improve lesson study?

Q: What kinds of lesson study goals do teachers work on?

A: Teachers choose lesson study goals that focus on skills or dispositions that they want to foster in all students, across all grades, and in a particular content area (e.g., fostering autonomous thinking in students when they do mathematics). Teachers then generate research questions, which have to do with exploring how to develop these skills or dispositions in children. In addition, specific content goals are also articulated for each study lesson.

Q: Is lesson study something done just in math and science?

A: Lesson study is practiced in every content area from language arts, to math, and even gym. Lesson study provides a process for teachers to examine their practice in order to answer questions about how they can serve their students more effectively, and this can be done in all subject and grade levels.

Q: Can teachers from different grades, different subjects, or even different schools do lesson study together?

A: Lesson study is practiced as a school-based activity as well as in groups that come together across schools. Teachers from different schools learn about each other's lesson study activities through attending lesson study open houses or by procuring published lesson study materials. In a single school, lesson study often brings together teachers from all grade levels and different areas of interest. This diversity of participants is seen as providing a rich perspective to lesson study activities.

Q: How long and how often do teachers work on a given study lesson?

A: The exact amount of time devoted per study lesson varies significantly from group to group. On average, a group will devote a 2-4 week period to working on a standard study lesson. Groups of 4 to 6 teachers will work on an average of 2-3 lessons a year. Often, each of these lessons will be taught twice in the process of being developed. In most schools, there will be at least a few subgroups that work on study lessons, which yields many opportunities for teachers to teach, observe, and discuss publicly taught lessons.

Q: Who else participates besides the teachers?

A: Generally, the principal and vice principal remain well informed about a school's lesson study activities; they also often participate in lesson study. An "outside advisor" is often invited to come observe the study lessons and provide insights for a group's lesson study process.