Direct Instruction

An alternative to minimally-guided instruction

Direct instruction (DI) is one of the most empirically well-established instructional methods in education yet one of the least well-known.

Championed by leading educational researchers such as John Hattie and Dylan William, DI was vindicated as most successful education program in the largest, most expensive US Department of Education project even run. Indeed, in a recent meta-analysis, 328 studies over 50 years show that DI has consistent, large positive effects on student achievement.

Yet, desipite these credentials, many teachers fail to understand what DI is. As Paul Kirschner explains in a TES podcast on DI, they ‘have a blind spot, they tend to see the straw man of direct instruction’.

What can we learn from direct instruction? How can it apply online? And in other learning sectors (HE, FE, L&D)? What problems does it pose for us?

Main texts

One of the UK’s greatest proponents of DI in the UK, Kris Boulton, recommends the following.

Start with Parsons and Poulton’s interactive ‘Siegfried Engelmann and Direct Instruction.’ in Psychology Learning Resources.

Then read Watkins and Slocum’s ‘The Components of Direct Instruction.’ from the Journal of Direct Instruction.

Further reading

If you want to learn about the evidence-base behind DI, read Stockard, Wood, Coughlin, and Khoury’s ‘The Effectiveness of Direct Instruction Curricula: A Meta-Analysis of a Half Century of Research.’ from the Review of Educational Research.

For another overview of DI, try Tom Needham’s 9-part blog entry on DI ‘Insights from Direct Instruction’.

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