Effectiveness of Lesson Planning: Factor Analysis

Article excerpt

The paper presents the conceptual framework that guided the development of the Lesson Plan Evaluation Rubric (LPER) instrument derived from the Four Stages of Lesson Planning (FSLP) strategy and the empirical results that provide the insight into the elements of lesson planning. Teachers from urban low-performing middle schools in one of the New England states received training and ongoing coaching in the FSLP strategy. Two hundred sixty one lesson plans from 3 9 teachers were collected during one school year of the two-year study to conduct factor analysis of the Rubric's 17 items. The resulting four factors are discussed in this paper. The research shows that the lessons plans developed with the reference to the FSLP strategy revealed a higher degree of lesson coherence.

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The research study conducted during the Middle School Mathematics Initiative (MSMI) project provided the opportunity for in-depth investigation of mathematics lesson planning. The Four Stages of Lesson Planning (FSLP) strategy (Panasuk, 1999, see Figure 1) was one of the interventions that aimed to assist middle school teachers in the designing of their lesson plans. During the project, we developed and validated Lesson Plan Evaluation Rubric (LPER) instrument (see Figure 2) derived from the lesson planning and delivery evaluation models (Panasuk & Sullivan, 1998). The rubric's seventeen items, with scores ranging from zero to 37, provided further details about and helped to make explicit the underlying principles of the FSLP strategy. The LPER instrument was used to analyze written lesson plans of the teachers who received training in the FSLP strategy.

Figure 1. Four stages of lesson planning.

OBJECTIVES
formulated in terms of students' observable
behavior

HOMEWORK
matches the objectives

DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITIES
reflect the objectives
advance development and learning

MENTAL MATHEMATICS
activates prior knowledge, prepares students for
the acquisition of new concepts

ELEMENTS OF INSTRUCTION

Instructional Environment

* Inquiry-Based Instruction
* Expository/Direct Teaching
* Labs and Projects

Instructional Approaches based on

* Problem Solving
* Multiple Representations
* Critical Thinking
* Communication
* Connections

Class Arrangements
* Individual
* Group Work
* Pair Work

The paper presents the conceptual framework for the rubric as it relates to the FSLP strategy, and empirical results that provide insight into the elements of lesson planning.

The Background

According to Clark & Dunn (1991), planning is a psychological process of envisioning the future, and considering goals and ways of achieving them. Lesson planning can be defined as a systematic development of instructional requirements, arrangement, conditions, and materials and activities, as well as testing and evaluation of teaching and learning. It involves analysis of the learning needs and the development of a delivery structure to meet those needs. Schon (1983) described lesson planning as pre-active decision-making that takes place before instruction. Clark and Dunn (1991) stated that, consciously and unconsciously, teachers make decisions that affect their behavior and that of their students. Planning a lesson involves teachers' purposeful efforts in developing a coherent system of activities that facilitates the evolution of students' cognitive structures. The quality of those decisions and efforts depends on the creativity of teachers and on their ability to apply learning and instructional theories.

Stigler and Hiebert (1999) indicated that, "many teachers in the United States do not even prepare lesson plans, at least not around student learning goals" (p.151). Kennedy (1994) and Reiser (1994) suggested that experienced teachers do not use Instructional Design features (Briggs, 1977; Merrill, 1971 ; Wong & Raulerson, 1974) in a written form of lesson planning. …