Indirect Instruction

Indirect instruction is a teaching approach that uses inquiry and encourages higher order thinking skills in an environment that encourages problem solving and or project based learning. Indirect instruction is based on the philosophy of constructivism, which states that people derive meaning from their own experiences.

There are many different strategies that fall under the category of indirect instruction. The main characteristic of indirect instruction is that the teacher is not directly leading and teaching the students. Instead the students are developing comprehension of the text among themselves. Some common strategies include.

  • Advanced Organizers
  • Student self-evaluation
  • Group discussion

Advanced Organizers

Advanced organizers provide a visual of whatever a teacher is trying to explain. The visual helps the students to organized and process the information they are seeing. Advanced organizer are indirectly explaining content through the visual they provide.

Below is an example of an advanced organizer. This chart is about various time periods in music. The visual divides the content into three eras (Baroque, Classical, and Romantic). Underneath each era is a prominent composer of that era (Bach, Mozart, and Listz). Students would see this information while the teacher is discussing it. By doing this, the visual reinforces the verbal information the student heard and strengthens retention.


Student Self-Evaluation

Another way that students can learn is through providing them with the opportunity to review their performance on a particular task. Self-evaluation allows the student to assess how well they perform on a particular assignment or assessment. As the student judges their own progress, they learn what they are doing well at as well as where they need to improve. The teacher role is to provide hints as to what may be some of the student’s problems.

Self-evaluation can take one of many forms. For example, students can complete a rubric. The rubric provides a criterion by which the student can assess their performance. Another option is the use of a reflective journal. The journals help the students to consider their thoughts and feelings as they were participating in an activity or completing an assignment. The primary goal is to get the student thinking about how they are doing.

Group Discussion

Group discussion is an experience of several students coming together to share views on a concept or idea with or without the guidance of the teacher.The goals of group discussion are to understand a concept, engage the students, develop communication, and contribute to deeper thinking processes. The teacher, if they are participating, serves as a facilitator who provides a conducive environment for discussion as well as contributing to the discussion.

Group discussion allows students to think out loud and share their comments in the moment. This experience also allows for students to challenge one another and develop critical thinking skills. It is safe to say that most classes should have some form of discussion at one time or another. Such opportunities for verbal expression are important for the students to learn in a form other than the direct instruction of the teacher.


Indirect instruction is a method of teaching that allows the students to develop an understanding of the text with minimal leadership from the teacher. The methods here are just the tip of the  iceberg in this form of instruction.


3 thoughts on “Indirect Instruction

  1. Pingback: Best Practices in Teaching: Probing | educationalresearchtechniques

  2. Pingback: The Role of the Teacher: Part I | educationalresearchtechniques

  3. Pingback: Examples and Nonexamples in Teaching | educationalresearchtechniques

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