Many theories exist to facilitate the development of meaningful lesson plans. Research on cognitive development and learning theory can be applied to maximize classroom learning. Analysis of lesson plans using multiple theories ensures a balanced approach to the application of clinical research.

Pre-Assessment and Target Skill Selection

Consider that effective lesson plans build on existing student knowledge. Determine how your lesson plan evaluates the student's current understanding of the target skill.

Use Piaget's developmental stages to ensure that your target skill is appropriate to the student's current level of abstract thought and logical processing ability.

Assess the student's interests. Remember that constructivism, brain-based learning and control theory all emphasize personalized, contextual learning to maximize interest, retention and depth of learning. Therefore, target skills should build on existing knowledge in a personally meaningful way for the student.

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Evaluate activities based on active student engagement. Brained-based learning, constructivism, control theory and Piaget all emphasize active immersion in lessons. Look for team activities, real-world applications of target skills and active use of all available student environments.

Provide time for students to observe the target task performed well. Observational/social learning theory emphasizes that imitation plays a significant role in learning and emphasizes the need for strong modeling throughout the teaching process.

Consider the teacher's role. Recommendations for the teacher's role vary by theory, which provides you with the flexibility needed to personalize your lesson plan according to the needs of your students. For example, the social cognition learning model recommends a scaffolding approach in which the teacher actively adjusts instruction throughout the lesson as the child learns contrasts with control theory that emphasizes the student's responsibility in learning.

Final Assessment

Assess the success of the lesson by challenging students to apply what they learned to new situations. For example, Piaget suggests that well-designed lessons allow the learner to use new information to increase the complexity of her mental understanding of the world. Therefore, the ability to apply the information to novel situations suggests the information is learned and not simply memorized.

Consider using self-assessments instead of formal tests. Constructivism and brain-based theory both suggest that self-assessment tools increase students awareness of their own learning processes. They also teach students to self-monitor, which encourages life-long learning habits.

Use absolute standards instead of "curves" when formal grades are required. Control theory suggests that students internalize lessons better when compared to absolute standards instead of comparing themselves to other students. However, both observation learning theory and social cognition theory caution that inappropriate learning environments or teaching methods can result in inadequate assessments.