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What Does “Direct Instruction” Really Mean?

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If you search for the definition of “direct instruction” online, this is what pops-up first:

Direct instruction (DI) is a general term for the explicit teaching of a skill-set using lectures or demonstrations of the material to students.

That’s the definition I’ve always thought was accurate and, even though I certainly believe this type of direct instruction has its place in the classroom, I also believe it has to be kept in its place (see The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”).

This past week I published an interview in Ed Week that I did with co-authors of a new book applying John Hattie’s research to math instruction (Author Interview: ‘Visible Learning for Mathematics’). In it, they point out that Hattie uses a very different definition for direct instruction – one that includes seven specific steps.

Interestingly, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that “assisted discovery” teaching (my preferred instructional strategy) could fit into those seven steps, too.

Is this seven-step description really accepted by most educators as the correct definition? Or, as I suspect, do the vast majority of educators consider it much more the “sage on the stage” model that includes a lot of lecturing (The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy)?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Great post. I’ll be sharing with staff. This information followed by a discussion is a good way to insure everyone is on the same page.

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