Designed Learning & Designing Learning

Direct instruction and maximizing student learning…

by Dr Gail Brown | May 16, 2022
Direct instruction and maximizing student learning…

This post further extends some comments by Greg Ashman about Noel Pearson and the effectiveness of Direct Instruction just last weekend…

Greg’s post highlights some important points about Direct Instruction, including hearing Kerry Hempenstall discussing these programs in 2016. These programs, designed by Zeigfried Englemann, have been around for many years, decades in fact. They are scripted, which means that teachers don’t have to prepare anything – the teaching sequence, the corrective procedures, student active learning (oral and written) and the importance of independent student practice of what is taught – this is all done for teachers.

Yes, these programs are expensive initially – simple because all of the preparation for teachers is done – so the manuals are an investment that can be used over and over again!

Extending on Greg’s post – you might want to follow up on the National Institute for Direct Instruction website – where there is research and resources. All of Kerry Hempenstall’s blog posts are also available there, and these are based on results with Australian students.

I have shown samples, older versions that I own, to university students I have taught over the years – with one question: If you can take a student from NOT reading (or just reading simple words, like “cat”) to reading around 2 pages of more complex text – and do that in 60 lessons – would you use this program.

University students, all current or soon-to-be teachers, all respond with a resounding YES!

Their next question, for current teachers often completing a post-graduate degree, is: “Why have I never been shown this program before, in my undergraduate degree?”

Like Greg Ashman, they were never shown this before I showed it during my university teaching. When such effective programs are NOT part of an undergraduate degree – then you have to ask: WHY?

The answer, as Noel Pearson so eloquently puts it – Teachers have to actually teach!

This is the same sort of argument that was put for NOT teaching phonemic awareness and phonics, by the same academics and researchers that Greg discusses.

Hopefully, we have all moved beyond “personal belief systems” to the Science of Reading and The Science of Learning – where all Direct Instruction programs sit: along with substantial evidence-based research support of significant improvements in student performance.

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