Deliberate Teaching


One of the most successful and effective teaching method goes by the name of “Direct Instruction” short DI. (1) . But it has a bad press. DI stands for introducing a clearly delineated instructional task that will be taught by a teacher, mostly to the whole class, offering plenty of exercises and practicing opportunities, followed by meticulous feedback on results. What is wrong with that? DI was introduced in the sixties of the last century and has since then a long standing history of versions and improvements. It has been implemented in all kinds of subject areas , for different age groups of students, cultural background, and countries all over the world. And it works (2). Several reasons are given as to why: time to learn, immediate feedback, teacher control, opportunity to practice, mastery goals, and also a caring teaching environment (warmth). In that respect DI includes many of the ingredients of a wealth of teaching effect studies.
So what is the complaint? This was carefully sorted out by an Australian study looking for the arguments against DI. Adversaries claim that DI is not suited for all children, it does not address creativity and critical thinking, students do not like it, there are other ways of teaching, and teachers are degraded as technicians.

Now this may all be true (or not, we simply lack the backing evidence of most critiques). Setting aside for a moment the nature and content of critiques and turning to who are issuing the critique would reveal that it comes mostly from educationalist (more specifically educational psychologist in motivation theory). DI is a trusted teaching method for many others: trainers in vocations and organizations, teachers in developing countries, therapists in health care, and coaches in sports. So, we have the strange situation of a teaching method developed by educationalists but then denounces by them, despite the success it has. All would agree on one thing though. DI typically maximizes instruction time – teachers and students are really on task. The core of DI is engagement with the task. When teacher and students do this in a deliberate way, what would be wrong with that?

Source of this article:
Fiona McMullen & Alison Madelaine (2014) Why is there so much resistance to Direct Instruction?, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 19:2, 137-151, DOI:10.1080/19404158.2014.962065
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