Direct Instruction

Direct instruction is probably one of the most common ways of teaching in the classroom. This model is useful for delivering large amounts of information to students. It is particularly useful for stimulating lower-level thinking and can serve as a foundation for going into more complex thinking in the future. There are six steps to direct instruction which are…

  1. Review of prior knowledge needed for the current lesson
    • Connect yesterday’s learning with today’s
  2. Presentation of new knowledge
    • Give an overview of what is going on and move into the topic
  3. Guided practice
    • Whatever you teach them they need to practice it without being formally evaluated
  4. Feedback
    • Tell them how they are doing during the guided practice
  5. Independent practice
    • Students work separately from the teacher. It is an opportunity to demonstrate mastery
  6. Weekly review
    • Reteach content occasionally to deepen understanding.

Direct instruction has a bad reputation in a world that is focused on student-centered learning and application. The student is very passive in direct instruction which is the main compliment of this teaching model. However, it is just one of many tools that a teacher has at their discretion. Leaning on any approach exclusively has its drawbacks. As such, occasional use of direct instruction can be beneficial just as the occasional use of any approach.

7 thoughts on “Direct Instruction

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  6. doug1943

    The important thing is to test our hypotheses about the best methods of instruction. This was actually done on a massive scale in the US in the early 1970s, in “Project Follow-Through”. You can read about it here: … Various ‘progressive’ ‘student-centred’ methods were tried out on a large scale, along with two more traditional approaches, including a method actually called “Direct Instruction”.

    The results: the progressive methods either made no difference, or actually resulted in students going backwards. Direct Instruction saw them make serious progress: To quote the article: “The results of Follow Through did not show how models that showed little or no effects could be improved. But they did show which models—as suggested by the less than ideal conditions of the experiment—had some indications of success. Of these models, Siegfried Engelmann’s Direct Instruction method demonstrated the highest gains in the comparative study.”

    Of course this didn’t fit the ideology of the educational establishment at the time, or now, so the results were quickly buried.

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