Teacher Tips > What is Direct Instruction?

What is Direct Instruction?

Teacher Tips

Direct instruction is a method of education that teaches by telling students about a subject or demonstrating something in order for students to learn about it. More often than not it does not involve a great deal of student participation; instead it simply states the information that must be learnt. It highly contrasts with more popular educational methods that involve students by getting them to research the subject themselves, or do something active like perform an experiment.

Despite many claiming the method to be very successful, many educators feel it is better for children to 'learn by discovery' (although there is little evidence that actually proves this is more effective). In this modern day most schools are attempting to leave the traditional method of simply teaching material behind, in order to develop a more interactive education system. This is said to help students think for themselves. Although it is likely to help kinesthetic learners, other learners may be better off without the change.

Direct instruction provides a fast-paced method of learning with ongoing interactions between student and teacher. The method focuses on making sure the teacher delivers all the material in an understandable manner. Should the teacher be doing all the work to make the students learn? This is debatable - students should be encouraged to put in effort, but on the other hand teaching is what teachers are being paid to do.

Schools may even be scared of the method - if they fail to teach the course well, their students will be unsuccessful. Other educational systems are not like that - when students are encouraged to work on their own, the brightest will excel whilst those more likely to just 'mess around' will fail. The main idea of direct instruction is that all students should succeed, regardless of ability, if they are taught well.

This isn't to say students don't get the opportunity to put their skills into practice. A typical lesson may involve a teacher reciting foreign words in a language class, and then having the pupils of the class repeat the word after them. This teacher-pupil interaction tends to form the main part of the lesson, with an overview of the lesson at the end to give students time to reflect on what they have learnt. Such a lesson plan involves the teacher being actively involved in with the students at all times, giving them not even a spare minute to do individual work.

The success of students depends on them being in a class with other students of a similar ability. Otherwise some may be held back by slower learners, whilst those who need extra help may fall behind. Therefore rigorous assessments of students' abilities in all subjects is essential, to put them into appropriate 'sets'.

The ultimate goal of education is to ensure all students achieve their full potential. To do this, effective educational methods must be used. Direct instruction is a tried and tested method that has been proven to give students a good education regardless of their level of ability.

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