On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Classroom Observation Project
Understanding and Improving our Teaching using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP)
Cutting Edge > Classroom Observation Project > Creating a Student-Centered Classroom > Lesson Design & Implementation

Improving Lesson Design and Implementation

What is lesson design and implementation and how does it affect learning?

This topic covers what the teacher intended to do. Once the instructor is familiar with how students can interact effectively with one another and with the instructor, it will become easier to design and implement a more student-centered learning environment. A lesson that is organized to explicitly engage students with their existing ideas and actively explores new concepts through authentic inquiry can help students to change what they already know, make connections, and integrate this new knowledge. The On the Cutting Edge Designing Innovative and Effective Courses module has a lot to offer in terms of help for developing courses and activities that engage students with the material, including a Course Design Tutorial.

Characteristics/examples of classes with low and high lesson design and implementation scores

Classes with poor lesson design and implementation are not designed to explore students' prior knowledge or encourage student input. These classes typically focus on convergent problems, are completely instructor directed, and don't provide opportunities to explore ideas before instruction. Instructors often miss opportunities to pose questions to students or they make generic inquiries ("Any questions?").

In contrast, a well-designed lesson might begin with the instructor making an effort to determine how much students already know about the topic through a small group discussion followed by a report-out activity. As the lesson proceeds, the instructor can pause at key breaks in the lesson to ask a few low-stakes multiple choice questions (individually or in groups) to check for understanding. Alternatively, she might assign students to work in teams to complete an exercise linked to previous material or ask them to explore a new concept in a non-technical way. This instructor solicits multiple ways to approach a problem or investigation and provides students with opportunities to influence the direction of the lesson.

Consider structuring your class so that it:

Tips and examples for improving lesson design and implementation.

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