Direct Instruction consists of carefully scripted lessons, backed by texts and workbooks, which establish an interactive, energetic engagement between a teacher and a group of students who are at approximately the same level of learning — an engagement that is carefully organized, directed and paced. Student responses are both individual and choral and are directed in such a way that no one is left unengaged. Ideas and practices are introduced in an order carefully developed to avoid confusion and to facilitate generalization. Children get the immediate reward of recognizing that something new and clarifying has been learned. Attention spans are stretched, and tendencies to misbehave are mostly lost in the positive, focused activity and energy present in the room.
All Direct Instruction programs have strong instructional design and have been field tested and revised over the past thirty years until they work smoothly and well. DI programs are complete; they take nothing for granted. Teachers make no assumptions about what children have learned or will learn outside of school. All necessary skills are taught in the classroom. Teachers use scripted lesson plans because questions, statements and their organization have been experimented with for a generation and honed to a fine point. The underlying belief of the DI curriculum is that all children can learn if they are taught well.
Direct Instruction Research
DI is widely regarded as a “researched-based” model of instruction. Over a period of forty years, each DI lesson sequence has been extensively field-tested to determine the most effective and efficient way to lead students to mastery. The effectiveness of DI is evident in the results of numerous research initiatives. The following studies demonstrate the substantial scientific research basis for DI:
- In a recently published meta-analysis of CSR programs, Dr. Geoffrey Borman and colleagues (University of Wisconsin, Madison) categorized 29 instructional programs based on (i) quality, (ii) quantity of their research evidence, and (iii) “statistically significant and positive results.” Only 3 of the 29 programs studied were categorized as showing the “strongest evidence of effectiveness.” One of these is DI. [Borman, G.D., et al(2002). Comprehensive School Reform and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. CRESPAR Report #59. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk.]
- A 1999 study of programs for school-wide reform prepared by American Institutes for Research found that DI provided “strong” evidence of positive effects on student achievement, the highest rating given. [Herman, R., et al(1999). An Educator’s Guide to Schoolwide Reform. The American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, and Educational Research Service.]
- In 1998, the American Federation of Teachers endorsed DI as one of “Six Promising Schoolwide Programs For Raising Student Achievement.” It stated that, when DI is properly implemented, “the results are stunning.” [American Federation of Teachers (1998). Six Promising Schoolwide Programs for Raising Student Achievement. See www.aft.org.
- DI was one of 20 teaching methods studied and compared in the U.S. government’s Project Follow Through, which after and 8-year study found that, all of the instructional models studied, DI yielded the greatest gains in basic skills, thinking skills, and self-esteem. [Stebbins, L.B., et al(1997). Education as Experimentation: A planned variation model (Vol. IV-A). Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.]
The National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI)
City Springs is committed to ensuring our teachers are equipped with the best practices currently in use in DI schools. To that end, our school is supported through consultation services through NIFDI. For more on NIFDI, click here.