Direct Instruction Done Well: Does it Work?

Direct instruction, a teaching method centered upon teacher-directed explicit instruction, often gets a bad rap because it is misunderstood.  However, when it is done well, it is far more effective than other teaching methods. John Hattie, a researcher who compiled hundreds of studies on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of specific teaching methods, found that direct instruction is more than twice as effective as inquiry based instruction.
Explicit teaching means that the teacher clearly explains the learning objective and content for the learners.  Typically, this is coupled with guided practice followed by independent practice. Many use the following phrase to describe this method: “I do, we do, you do.” The subject matter is laid out comprehensively so learners do not need to guess the information they should retain.  
One of the greatest benefits of direct instruction is the flexibility it allows with groupings. Despite what some may believe, direct instruction does not need to be whole group.  Learners can be broken into small ability groups that receive direct instruction at their level while the learners around them work independently on other assignments.
Direct instruction also allow teachers to build stronger relationships with their learners.  Learners of all ages benefit by getting to know their instructors having the opportunity to interact with him or her throughout the school day. Direct instruction relies heavily upon those interactions.  Learners can ask questions, share their ideas, challenge the opinions of others, and openly discuss the content. Direct instruction does not involve one sided lecture. The interaction between the teacher and learner is key to the success of the method and the success of the learner.
Another major benefit to direct instruction is the direct feedback if offers as a result. Because the teacher is teaching the learners, delivering the content, and assessing learners, that teacher can actively monitor the progress of each learner. The teacher is able to collect accurate data as to the understanding and retention of the content for the learners. The teacher can then adequately relay back to the learner how they are doing making progress toward their goals.This feedback allows the learner to become much more proactive as they study and grow.  This constant progress monitoring and frequent feedback motivates the learner to work hard and put forth needed effort when actively listening to the teacher and when working independently.
Direct instruction is NOT boring lecture!  Direct instruction should be engaging. The content should be presented in short bursts, repeated in a variety of ways, and practiced by the learners.  Engagement increases when the learner understands why the content is important to learn. A master teacher can build the connection from the learner’s life to the content.
Finally, direct instruction allows a growth mindset to blossom in the classroom. This method assumes that all learners can learn.  They may learn at different rates or in different styles, but they can all move forward by having a teacher take the time to teach them new content.  Direct instruction allows teachers to identify the strengths of the learners and build on those.
As research evidences, direct instruction makes a massive different in the learning trajectory.  This method clearly promotes learner success.

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