Direct Instruction Approach in Teaching

Different approaches differ in the level of teacher and student participation. We start describing these approaches from that approach with the highest to the lowest level of teacher direction or from the lowest to the highest level of student participation. On the basis of student and teacher involvement, these methods are categorized as direct/expositive approach or guided/exploratory approach.

Direct Instruction, defined.

Direct instruction is a way of teaching which is aimed at helping students acquire some basic skills and “procedural knowledge.” It is described as straightforward and is done in a step-by-step manner. The emphasis is on how to execute the steps of the entire procedure. The procedure may involve a simple or a complex skill such as solving a problem by using mathematical equations, Performance-based subjects such as Science, Mathematics, Music and Physical Education are taught by employing: this technique. To employ this methodology, follow these steps:

  1. provide the rationale;
  2. demonstrate the skill;
  3. provide guided practice;
  4. check for understanding and provide feedback; and
  5. provide extended practice and transfer.

Such a technique requires careful structuring of the entire procedure. Attention is focused on every detail of the procedure..

Direct instruction is teacher-directed and teacher-dominated. It is meant for the teaching of skills.

Instructional Characteristics

  1. The strategy is teacher-directed.
  2. The emphasis is on the teaching of skill. Each step must be mastered, hence the students gain “how” rather, than “what”. It is termed procedural knowledge.
  3. Taught in a step-by-step fashion, it ensures the learning of the entire procedure with no step missed:
  4. Lesson objectives include easily observed behaviors that can be measured accurately. If the lesson is to develop a skill in performing the five steps of a particular experiment, such skill can be observed and measured. The level of performance can be assessed from the number of steps performed correctly.
  5. This is a form of learning through imitation, sometimes termed “behavioral modeling”.

Guidelines for Its Effective Use

  1. The students must be given ample time for practice.
  2. They must be included in the planning stage since this technique is highly task-oriented and aimed at mastery of every step. The lesson objectives are student-based.
  3. Describe the testing situation and specify the level of performance expected.
  4. Divide complex skills and understanding into subskills or into its component steps so they can be taught easily and with precision.
  5. Design own strategy in teaching each skill which will eventually contribute to the learning of the entire skill.
  6. Before the demonstration, carefully rehearse all steps. The .steps should be observed and followed.
  7. Assign practice for short periods of time, then continue learning by imitating others.
  8. Provide feedback and encouragement through praises. Positively motivated, the students will never get tired of practicing.
  9. Be able to construct good performance-based tests.

The Procedure

  1. Explain the rationale and objectives of the lesson. Inform the students about the entire procedure and how long the lesson will take.
  2. Provide motivation and draw commitments from them.
  3. Conduct the demonstration. Much of the learning will be achieved by observing others rather than by trial-and-error.
  4. Assign practice for short periods of time. Continue practice to the point c4 overlearning for complete mastery.
  5. Provide feedback (can be verbal feedback), videotaping of performance, tests or written comments.
  6. Focus on performance evaluation rather than on pencil-and-paper test. The student should be able to exhibit the skill mastered.