What Lesson Study Can—and Cannot—Do to Improve the College History Classroom

Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:40 AM
Nantucket Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Peter Knupfer , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Lesson Study has attracted much attention among TAH projects since it was piloted by the “History Grows in Oakland” TAH project from 2004 to 2007.  The key features of this curriculum planning and implementation process – its emphasis on collaborative research lessons, teacher observation, revision and re-teaching – suggest a depth of intellectual engagement in the content of history instruction that should appeal to the college-level historian who approaches her students in the garb of a field expert.  Lesson Study requires deep, complicated, and intensive study of lesson content, in addition to an assessment model that enables the Lesson Study participants to measure accurately whether students are learning effectively from those lessons.  But Lesson Study’s emphasis on collaboration and observation run counter to the solo work ethic of the typical college instructor, and it does not necessarily lend itself to innovative teaching practices unless the participants decide to do so. Knupfer’s presentation will enter the conversation about Lesson Study and history teaching from the perspective of a college history instructor (not normally the focus, or even a major player at the table, in TAH projects) who participated in this TAH pilot, and will reflect on how these experiences and the findings of the study can be used to improve history instruction in the college classroom, where, ultimately, history teachers begin their professional journey into the craft.
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