Are you a new teacher looking to sharpen your instructional practice?
You've probably heard about how effective the direct instruction method can be! But with all the debate around the approach, it's natural to feel unsure about how best to use it.
Learning about the advantages and disadvantages of direct instruction can help you make the best decisions for your lessons and your learners.
Direct Instruction: A Quick Overview
In a nutshell, direct instruction (DI) is a systematic, evidence-based, and teacher-led approach, grounded in the science of learning.
Elements of a DI Lesson
Lesson opener or "hook" to introduce the learning objective
Presentation of new material through teacher instruction
Guided practice, where teachers assist students while they grasp new information
Feedback and correctives to keep students on track
Independent practice for students to gain confidence and mastery
Evaluation and review of student learning and progress
The Debate Around DI
As a traditional instructional method, DI has been the focus of many research studies to evaluate best practices in instruction and teaching.
Ultimately, direct instruction, like any other instructional method, has its own set of pros and cons. Learning about these can help you plan your lessons by capitalizing on the advantages and avoiding the disadvantages of DI.
Advantages of the DI Method
A clear objective and structured flow of content ensures that learners are exposed to new material clearly and efficiently.
DI supports accessible learning anduniversal design for learning (UDL) with frameworks that support various student profiles. If planned intentionally, DI can help learners with varying skills and knowledge levels.
Clear Data-Driven Insights
With its systematic approach, DI allows for ease in modifying plans based on insights from data. In this way, DI can effectively improve performance, such as when preparing for standardized tests.
Capitalizing on the Advantages
To maintain a logical flow,instructors can follow a standard 5-step lesson plan template.
Teachers can use differentiation techniques in a DI lesson to reach students with different needs. For instance, learners can be engaged through scenario-based tasks and productive failure during the "independent practice'" section of the lesson.
Clear Data-Driven Lessons
Teachers can useclear assessment data to understand students' strengths and weaknesses, helping them master skills and knowledge.
Angelo is a new teacher in a diverse, mixed-grade, mixed-ability, inclusive classroom. What are some advantages of DI that he can keep in mind when designing lessons for his students?
Disadvantages of the DI Method
The structured DI approach may create a repetitive and passive learning environment, limiting a teacher's creativity.
Studying to the Test
The overreliance on testing and the performance-based environment may create a stressful learning atmosphere, reduce authentic engagement, and limit the transfer of learning.
The teacher-centered approach may lead to reduced student engagement or boredom, and negatively affect the development of social skills.
Avoiding the Disadvantages
Teachers can use participatory and active learning methods like peer feedback or debates. The active learning engagement must be aligned with the DI content and rubrics that fit the learning method chosen.
Avoiding Studying to the Test
Instructors can include elements of "real-world" applicability in their classroom with practices like situational games, "Problem of the Week" challenges, practical community-based projects that stem from course curriculum, and offer the choice of practical and engaging assignment options.
Avoiding Low Engagement
Remember: no one is asking you to choose only ONE instructional model. You can choose an eclectic approach!Balance teacher-led instruction with student-centered approaches to avoid leaning too heavily on one side.
For instance, if a meaningful student-led learning activity does not fit within a DI lesson, instructors may consider setting aside time for a standalone engagement.
Angelo is seeing great test results using the DI method with his students. What are some ways he can keep student engagement high, ensure authentic learning, and avoid boredom?
With the understanding of the pros and cons of direct instruction, and practical tips to craft your instructional approach, you're now set up to be a knowledgeable instructor!