Direct Instruction


Direct instruction is a method that is specifically designed to enhance academic learning time. Direct instruction does not assume that students will develop insights on their own. Instead, direct instruction takes learners through the steps of learning systematically, helping them see both the purpose and the result of each step. When teachers explain exactly what students are expected to learn, and demonstrate the steps needed to accomplish a particular academic task, students are likely to use their time more effectively and to learn more.

The basic components of direct instruction are:

  1. Setting clear goals for students and making sure they understand these goals.

  2. Presenting a sequence of well-organized assignments.

  3. Giving students clear, concise explanations and illustrations of the subject matter.

  4. Asking frequent questions to see if the students understand the work.

  5. Giving students frequent opportunities to practice what they have learned.

Not all topics are amenable to direct instruction. Indeed, even within a single grade level or subject area it is possible that some learners will profit from direct instruction, while others will profit from a less direct approach to instruction (Cole et al, 1993).

An excellent discussion of direct instruction can be found in Rosenshine (1986).


Direct instruction is an example of one way to use academic learning time effectively. Direct instruction is not a synonym for good teaching. To avoid misapplications of direct instruction, it is essential to look at the rationale behind it.

In other instances, however, different, less direct strategies may more effectively promote active participation.




Online Links:

Direct Instruction


Carnegie Mellon Researchers Say Direct Instruction, Rather Than "Discovery Learning" Is Best Way To Teach Process Skills In Science

According to this article, direct instruction can be used to teach some fairly sophisticated skills.


Instructional Design as a School Reform Strategy:

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's summary description

Summary of numerous other curriculum models for educational reform, many of which involve direct instruction, mastery learning, or generative teaching:

Catalog of School Reform Models


Direct Instruction in Education by Martin A. Kozloff. Louis LaNunziata, and James Cowardin.

This 1999 report gives a comprehensive analysis of the research that supports direct instruction and related methods.


Direct Instruction Information|

This is a comprehensive summary of information about programs using direct instruction and sites at which direct instruction is implemented on a large scale can be found at this site:


Direct Instruction

This is a comprehensive summary sponsored by the Educational Commission of the States.



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