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Lesson Study Group at Mills College

Our Staff Resources New to Lesson Study Order DVDs Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lesson Study?

In Japan, teachers improve their teaching through "lesson study," a process in which teachers jointly plan, observe, analyze, and refine actual classroom lessons called "research lessons". Lesson study is widely credited for the steady improvement of Japanese elementary mathematics and science instruction. Since 1999, lesson study has rapidly emerged in many sites across the United States.

In Lesson Study, teachers:

  • Think about the long-term goals of education - such as love of learning and respect for others;
  • Carefully consider the goals of a particular subject area, unit or lesson (for example, why science is taught, what is important about levers, how to introduce levers);
  • Plan classroom "research lessons" that bring to life both specific subject matter goals and long term goals for students;
  • Carefully study how students respond to these lessons - including their learning, engagement, and treatment of each other.

Our Research

Since 1999, the Mills College Lesson Study Group has conducted research on lesson study in U.S. settings, including schools, districts and pre-service education. Our work focuses on adaptation of lesson study to U.S. settings, the nature of teachers "learning during lesson study, and the ways in which outside experts and resources - especially those from Japan - can support teachers" learning. Support for the research has come from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences (IES).

Our team is currently engaged in two major IES-funded research projects, both focused on using elements of Japanese curriculum and instruction along with lesson study to support teachers’ implementation of mathematical ideas embedded in the Common Core State Standards. Prior NSF-funded and IES-funded research focused on whether research-based toolkits enable mathematics lesson study groups to access and use content knowledge effectively.

For information on the NSF-funded research click here

For information on the prior IES-funded research click here

For further information or comments, please contact:


What's New?

We are looking for school-based teams interested in engaging in lesson study on the topic of fractions for the 2016-17 school year. If you are interested, please sign up here.


The World Association of Lesson Study Conference (WALS) will be held November 22-23rd, 2015. Please see their website for details.


Listen to American RadioWorks Podcast "Teaching Teachers", featuring lesson study.


Educational Researcher article on school-wide lesson study as a form of improvement science.


Lesson Study: Step by Step
To order book or download video, click here


This material is based upon research supported by the National Science Foundation on Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering and under the National Center for Education Research within the Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the grantors.

Last site update: October 2015