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Our Approach » Research on Direct Instruction

Research on Direct Instruction

DI Programs are based on years of research on how children learn and the most effective ways to teach. This work produced the two basic principles of effective instruction:

1) All children can learn when instruction is systematic, explicit, and efficient. Instruction must proceed in a logical and systematic fashion. Elements must be carefully sequenced so that students have the necessary preliminary understandings for new learning. The instruction must be very clearly presented to ensure that only one possible interpretation can result from the presentation. These elements help ensure that it is efficiently designed and will teach the maximum amount of material in the shortest amount of time. With systematic, explicit, and efficient instruction, students can mastery material more quickly and become more self-confident learners. Direct Instruction programs, developed by Siegfried Engelmann and colleagues, incorporate all of these elements of effective instruction. The programs are developed in a careful procedure that involves extensive logical analyses of the subject matter and strategies for testing the programs before they are published. These tests ensure that the programs are clear and explicit and that they efficiently present the material.

2) Poor achievement does not result from poor students, but from poor teaching. All students can learn. When students do not learn, the problem is not with the student, but with the instruction. Poor achievement occurs when material is presented in a confusing, illogical, or inconsistent manner. Years of research on how children learn show that even minor alterations in instructional presentations can produce confusion and slow children’s learning. Direct Instruction programs include extensive guidelines for teachers in how to present the material in ways that are logical, clear, and systematic and in ways that consistently reinforce children for their learning.

Project Follow Through, the largest educational experiment ever conducted, was the first large-scale documentation of DI’s superiority. Since that time many studies in a wide variety of settings have shown that children who receive Direct Instruction have significantly higher achievement, make more rapid educational progress, and have higher levels of self-esteem than students in other programs. Studies also show that as their students’ achievement increases, teachers who use Direct Instruction become more self-confident and assured of their professional abilities.

For more information on the history of DI, see:

Clear Teaching by Shepard Barbash