Posts Tagged ‘Direct Instruction’

Direct Instruction—With Flexibility~

Survey of Instructional Strategies Module 9

Direct Instruction—With Flexibility~

To what extent or in what ways does structured, direct instruction promote student learning and well-being?

As I observe the effects of structured, direct instruction on the learning and well-being of my special education students, I notice that often students appreciate the predictability of the routine, clarity of the task, examples and modeling of expected outcomes, opportunities to ask questions, and the goal of independence.  Authors Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) cite a number of studies confirming the effectiveness of Direct Instruction with at-risk students throughout the past 40 years. Based on my teaching experiences within the last 30 years, I have observed that the most at-risk students often lack structure, predictability and consistent role-models in their lives outside of school. Additionally, opportunities to ask questions of someone who is successfully able to guide, practice with the presence of a “safety net” and, the encouragement needed to independently take on new responsibilities—are at times insufficient. One of my colleagues noted in a post this week, that his work with students in an alternative school setting includes built in “independent practice” for homework.  I believe that in this manner, he provides a form of direct instruction.

At-risk students in particular, when provided with structured, direct instruction—often increase their understanding of concepts and develop the ability to perform tasks they have never before accomplished. In the process, they begin to see themselves in a more positive light and their level of confidence is raised. However, the manner in which the Direct Instruction is provided must also allow the teacher to be flexible enough to address the needs of students who do not respond well to this instructional model—otherwise it can become a negative experience for all involved. As noted within Dell’Olio and Donk, “…context is everything in the classroom. Teachers must deliberate over the needs of their students and decide which instructional method is the right one at the time” (2007, p. 95).

As I consider the strengths and weaknesses of my students, I am drawn to the following quote from one of the readings for this week:

“The equality of all the children as human beings, an equality that derives from their common humanity and personhood, is accompanied by individual inequality in talents and aptitudes” (Adler, 1984, p.1 as cited within Survey of Instructional Strategies handout, Seattle Pacific University).


Adler, M. (1984). “Introduction” to The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus. As cited within: Williams, T. (2011). Survey of Instructional Strategies handout, Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.