What Makes an Effective Lesson

What Makes an Effective Lesson

Developing and Reflecting on Subject Knowledge and Subject Pedagogy

 Writing your assignment

 What makes an effective lesson?

In this assignment you will critically reflect on the factors that contribute to effective lessons in your subject. This should include reference to relevant literature concerning subject pedagogy and may include general theories of teaching and learning.blankYou will then analyse a sequence of about 3 lessons that you have planned and delivered or you may wish to focus in on one lesson in particular to illuminate your understanding of effective learning in your subject (this will depend on the delivery pattern for your particular subject). You will then go on to discuss the ways in which critical reflection has developed and improved your practice.

 Word limit: 4500 words

 This guidance is intended to help you to think about how you might plan and structure your work.  It is not a writing framework and should be seen as supportive not constraining.  The word numbers for each section are indicative only.  Please make sure that you read the assignment brief and take note of any specific guidance given by your subject tutor.

Introduction (250-500 words)

Your introduction should:

  • present your initial thinking about what contributes to an effective lesson in your subject
  • establish the lines of thinking / focus that you intend to pursue in your review of literature

Literature review (1000- 1500 words)

Pass criteria (Level 7)

Selects and synthesises relevant ideas and themes from a range of literature, demonstrating breadth and depth of reading and indicating a developing awareness of how some of these ideas can be applied to teaching and learning in your subject.

In your literature review you will be developing and evidencing your lines of thinking by drawing on evidence from the different genres of literature. You are likely to include aspects of:

  • the philosophy of your subject and the way in which it contributes to wider knowledge and learning and how students might understand its relevance to their lives and wider application,
  • the pedagogy of your subject – how learning is thought about and approached through teaching and assessment and the impact this might have on different groups of students
  • the practicalities of teaching your subject.

You may be drawing on subject specific literature, or applying a more generic literature to particular features of your subject.

You will find it helpful to plan each line of thinking before you start to undertake your writing.  Make sure that you have a logical sequence of points that you wish to make and that you have gathered the evidence to support your argument around each point.

Helpful questions to ask:

What is already known about this aspect of practice?

What is the quality (carefully researched or argued and peer reviewed- an individual’s opinion) and source (policy, journal, practice, newspaper article) of that knowledge?

Are there areas of disagreement or uncertainty?

How does this relate to your experience or understanding?blankDrawing conclusions from your review of literature (500-750 words approx.)

Pass criteria (Level 7)

Uses the literature to critically evaluate the key features of an effective lesson in specialist subject

This is where you bring together your findings from your literature and explain how you have used this to help you to plan your own lessons.

Helpful questions to ask:

  • Which factors are important to an effective lesson in my subject from each line of thinking?
  • What are the features of these that I need to be paying attention to in my planning and practice?
  • What will these factors actually ‘look like’ in a lesson?
  • How have I used my reading to plan some lessons?

Your lesson analysis (1000- 1250 words)

Pass criteria (Level 7)

Critically analyses the selected sequence of lessons with reference to the underpinning research and scholarship. Demonstrates the ability to reflect on and critically evaluate strengths and improvement targets to develop effectiveness of classroom practice in relation to pupil progress.


It is important that you do not identify at any point in your assignment, the school, school trust/alliance/local authority or any staff or pupils by name either directly or indirectly. Although you are asked to consider pupil progress with reference to different groups of pupils there is no requirement to collect or refer to any pupil data in this assignment. You should deal with the protection of pupil data in accordance with your placement school policy. This protects you, because it enables you to comment freely on your practice and any issues arising professionally without risk of repercussions.  It keeps you within the GDPR rules by preserving the anonymity of others and ensuring that you follow school guidance.

The suggestion for this section is that you analyse a short series of lessons with a particular focus on one lesson from the series or analyse a single lesson in depth.  The important sources of information are your lesson reviews and any observations from your host teacher or mentor.

The danger in this section is that you write a description rather than analysing your practice so:

  1. make use of reflective writing here – N.B Jenny Moon’s  (2004) examples which can be found on Blackboard, reflective questions ( Angelides 2001)  or models  such as single and double loop learning (Argyris and Schön 1978)
  2. you could place the extracts from reflective writing/ observations of your practice that you wish to comment on in a text box to indicate that this is some data.
  3. then go on to draw upon the findings from your literature review (your framework) to analyse your practice in more depth.

Implications for your professional learning (500-750 words)

Pass criteria (Level 7)

Well-chosen evidence drawn from personal and critical reflection on pupil learning, progress and attainment is synthesised to provide a sound rational for development in relation to professional practice.

This section is your opportunity to demonstrate how you feel that your professional learning and your developing understanding of effective classroom practice has moved forwards since undertaking this work.  In this section you can discuss:

  • the analysis of sequence of lessons relating this back to your initial thinking regarding an effective lesson to demonstrate what you have learnt.
  • how ideas from the literature translate into practice, and the extent to which issues raised regarding learning and teaching in your subject were reflected in your own experiences.
  • What was successful, what will need to be adapted and refined, what your key targets for the future are.


Please check that you have referenced everything that you have cited, and that all you references are complete. We use the APA system at SHU. The Library Gateway has a number of resources to support you with formatting your citations and reference list. Please use them.blankAppendices

Try to keep these to a minimum. Only use them where necessary either as additional evidence of work that you have done (e.g. scans of your lesson plans) or documents that are not easily accessible in the public domain (e.g. a local policy document). Please check that the documents in appendices do not identify your school, locality or any individuals. Only put something in an appendix if you are going to refer to it in your writing.

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