Direct Instruction Implementation
ERI Home
ConsultingProductsAppsAbout UsNewsVideosConferencesContact Us

  Featured Product

Audio Training for Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Product Details

 
News & Events > Myths About Direct Instruction By Sara Tarver
6/20/2008
MYTHS ABOUT DIRECT INSTRUCTION & RESEARCH THAT REFUTES THOSE MYTHS Sara Tarver, University of Wisconsin THE BIG MYTH ABOUT EFFECTIVE TEACHING APPROACHES Myth #1: Teacher-centered approaches (traditional approaches) to education result in lower academic achievement than student-centered approaches (progressive approaches). TRUTH: A traditional, teacher-centered approach to education generally results in higher academic achievement than a progressive, student-centered approach. This is particularly so among students who are less well prepared for academic learning  poor children and those with learning difficulties at all social and economic levels (Chall, p. 182) Chall, J. S. (2000). The academic achievement challenge: What really works in the classroom. New York: The Guilford Press. Project Follow Through (in-depth and beyond). In Adams, G. L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct  Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems. (pp. 67-98). Quote from Ernest Boyer, Commissioner of Education at the completion of Project Follow Through: Since only one of the sponsors (Direct Instruction) was found to produce positive results more consistently than any of the others, it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to disseminate information on all the models. A BIG MYTH STEMMING FROM FAULTY DISSEMINATION OF THE PROJECT FOLLOW THROUGH RESULTS MYTH #2: DI may be effective for teaching very rudimentary academic skills, but it does not promote higher order cognitive learning (e.g., mathematical problem solving and reading comprehension). TRUTH: This myth reflects a problem in logic. DI was put into a "basic skills" category along with other Ã’basic skillsÓ models. As a result, the overall conclusion that basic skills models are not effective at promoting higher order thinking and problem solving was erroneously applied to DI. A BIG MYTH THAT CONFUSES DI and direct instruction MYTH #3: It is possible to use generic effective-school practices (direct instruction) to achieve results as good as those achieved by DI (Direct Instruction). direct instruction                                                        Direct Instruction teacher-directed                                                            teacher-directed explicit teaching                                                             explicit teaching skills-oriented                                                                skills-oriented small-group instruction                                                  small-group instruction carefully articulated and sequenced lessons                carefully articulated and sequenced lessons teaching in small steps                                                  teaching in small steps practice after each step                                                practice after each step appropriate reinforcement for correct responses         appropriate reinforcement for correct responses GENERIC MODEL                                                       SPECIFC APPLICATIONS DESIGNED TO ENSURE GENERALIZATION CURRICULUM NEUTRAL                                           CURRICULUM SPECIFIC TRUTH: Engelmann's (1996) conclusion: Installation of these "effective" practices without a systematic instructional sequence will not necessarily lead to highly effective teaching. It may result in improvement over what had been achieved, but it will not cause superior performance. (pp. 31-32) During the 1970s, there were various "mastery learning" projects that usually involved traditional material and formats combined with techniques that have been identified as effective-school practices. The results were very poor. Although some applications showed modest performance gains, the results were not on a par with those achieved by DI. (p. 32) Madeline Hunter (1980) developed an extensive system based on effective-school practices. She asserted that the system would produce results with any curricular system. Evaluations of results, however, showed that the typical school achieves virtually no gain in student performance. Hunter's system is not effective because it lacks a key ingredient  an effective curriculum. (p. 32) Adams, G. L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems. OTHER MYTHS ABOUT DIRECT INSTRUCTION MYTH #4: DI is a "rote" and "drill" approach. TRUTH: DI is designed to accelerate students' acquisition of academic skills. To accelerate the acquisition of skills, teaching must enable students to generalize or, in other words, to apply what they have learned to new examples. Selection and sequencing of particular examples and non-examples of concepts and skills during the initial teaching is necessary to ensure generalization (or application) to other examples that have not been taught. In other words, teaching for generalization is at the core of Direct Instruction. Teaching for generalization is the opposite of teaching for rote memorization. Engelmann, S. & Carnine. D. (1991). Theory of instruction: Principles and applications. Revised Edition. Eugene, Oregon: ADI Press. MYTH #5: DI has a detrimental effect on students' self concept or self esteem and on students' attitudes toward learning. TRUTH: DI has a positive effect on students' self concept or self esteem and on students' attitudes toward learning. Project Follow Through (in-depth and beyond). In Adams, G. L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems. Tarver, S. G., & Jung, J. S. (1995). A comparison of mathematics achievement and mathematics attitudes of first and second graders instructed with either a discovery-learning mathematics curriculum or a Direct Instruction curriculum. Effective School Practices, 14, 49-57. Reprinted in Network News & Views, August, 1996. MYTH #6: DI may be appropriate for disadvantaged students, but it is not appropriate for other students who are at risk of failure in school and it is not appropriate for average and above-average achieving students. TRUTH: DI benefits the full spectrum of students. Adams, G. L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems. Tarver, S. G., & Jung, J. S. (1995). A comparison of mathematics achievement and mathematics attitudes of first and second graders instructed with either a discovery-learning mathematics curriculum or a Direct Instruction curriculum. Effective School Practices, 14(, 49-57. Reprinted in Network News & Views, August, 1996. MYTH #7: DI's scripted presentations and predetermined lessons stifle the teacher's creativity. Teachers don't like DI! TRUTH: A DI teacher is in a position to display a great deal of creativity if, and only if, two conditions have been met: (1) the teacher is supplied with appropriate tools (i.e., the carefully sequenced curricula in published DI programs), and (2) the teacher has been provided with adequate training in the use of those tools. If these two conditions are met, the teacher is in a position to use DI creatively. Teachers DO like DI if they have had opportunities to learn about the underlying philosophy and theory and to observe students' success when DI is delivered with integrity. Schug, M. C., Tarver, S. G., Western, R. D. (2001). Direct Instruction and the teaching of early reading: Wisconsin's teacher-led insurgency. Thiensville, WI: Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. MYTH #8: DI ignores students' individual differences. TRUTH: Any approach that benefits the full spectrum of students  high-performing, average-performing, low-performing  is providing for differences among those students. Individualization is a built-in feature of Direct Instruction. Placement tests, flexible homogenous grouping procedures, and ongoing monitoring of individual studentsÕ progress ensure attention to studentsÕ individual differences. Engelmann, S. (2004). The Dalmatian and its spots. DI News, Spring, 4(1), 5-7. MYTH #9: The reading achievement of poor children who do not receive Direct Instruction is no different from the reading achievement of poor children who receive Direct Instruction. TRUTH: This myth reflects the same kind of faulty logic as myth #2. Because DI was one of the models in Project Follow Through, a conclusion about the Follow Through models as a whole is erroneously applied to DI. Quote from Allington (April, 2002). What do we know about the effects of Direct Instruction on student reading achievement? EducationNews.org After all the time and effort of the Follow Through effort, the reading achievement of poor children in Control schools (with no Follow Through project) was no different than that of the children participating in Follow Through programs. This conclusion is omitted from the Direct Instruction promotional materials. MYTH: #10: Although DI produces academic gains in the early grades, it has no lasting effects on students' success in school. TRUTH: High school follow-up studies of students who were in DI schools in Project Follow Through show higher rates of graduation, higher rates of applying to college, higher rates of acceptance to college, and lower rates of dropping out (compared to non-DI controls). Meyer, L. A., Gersten, R., & Gutkin, J. (1983). Direct Instruction: A Project Follow Through success story in an inner-city school. Elementary School Journal, 84, 241-252.
Back To News & Events
 
Check Out View Cart ERI Home