WHAT IS DIRECT INSTRUCTION (DI)?
Direct Instruction (DI) is a teaching model that emphasizes well-developed and carefully sequenced lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks. DI is based on the theory that clear instruction eliminating misinterpretations greatly accelerates learning for all students. Its creator, Siegfried Engelmann, and his colleagues have demonstrated that DI greatly improves both academic performance and affective behaviors. Over 40 years of research has proven that DI dramatically increases academic performance of students of all backgrounds.
WHY DOES DI WORK?
There are four main features of DI that ensure students learn faster and more efficiently than any other program or technique available:
1. Students are placed in instruction at their skill level.
When students begin the program, each student is tested to find out which skills they have already mastered and which ones they need to work on. From this, students are grouped together with other students needing to work on the same skills. These groups are organized by the level of the program that is appropriate for students, rather than the grade level the students are in.
2. The program’s structure is designed to ensure mastery of the content.
The program is organized so that skills are introduced gradually, giving children a chance to learn those skills and apply them before being required to learn another new set of skills. Only 10-15% of each lesson is new material. The remaining 85-90% of each lesson’s content is review and application of skills students have already learned but need practice with in order to master. Skills and concepts are taught in isolation and then integrated with other skills into more sophisticated, higher-level applications. All details of instruction are controlled to minimize the chance of students’ misinterpreting the information being taught and to maximize the reinforcing effect of instruction.
3. Instruction is modified to accommodate each student’s rate of learning.
A particularly wonderful part about DI is that students are retaught or accelerated at the rate at which they learn. If they need more practice with a specific skill, teachers can provide the additional instruction within the program to ensure students master the skill. Conversely, if a student is easily acquiring the new skills and needs to advance to the next level, students can be moved to a new placement so that they may continue adding to the skills they already possess.
4. Programs are field tested and revised before publication.
DI programs are very unique in the way they are written and revised before publication. All DI programs are field tested with real students and revised based on those tests before they are ever published. This means that the program your student is receiving has already been proven to work.