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In our online store, you will find a wide variety of titles on Direct Instruction – from books Siegfried "Zig" Engelmann has authored to program supplements to titles on research. We offer a number of titles designed to help a variety of audience purposes, including:

  • teachers, coaches, and administrators implementing DI programs in their schools;
  • parents preparing or supporting their children in academic success;
  • researchers in search of theoretical and empirical studies regarding the development, efficacy and implementation of DI.

Please note: NIFDI does not sell program materials. If you are looking to purchase curriculum, such as Reading Mastery, Connecting Math Concepts, etc., you will want to visit our program pages (click "The Programs" on the menu at the top of your screen) and visit the respective publisher's website.

Note on international orders: To save our international customers high shipping costs, some NIFDI Press publications are now available through Amazon's print on demand feature. Check your local Amazon site for details. For all other international orders, please email

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Engelmann's Direct Instruction: Selected Writings from the Past Half Century

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Since the mid-1960s, Siegfried Engelmann has shown how all children can learn if they receive appropriate and effective instruction. The Direct Instruction (DI) programs he developed have transformed the lives of countless students. However, in addition to developing these highly effective programs, Engelmann has written extensively about learning and education, providing extraordinary insight into the theoretical and philosophical basis of DI as well as the world of education as a whole.

This book brings together, for the first time, a selection of these articles, illustrating the wide variety of topics Engelmann has explored over the last half century and his unique insights into problems within the world of education. Four key themes of Engelmann’s work are highlighted:

  1. His theoretical understandings of learning and instruction,
  2. The development of the highly effective Direct Instruction curricular material,
  3. The need for political reform and change in the organization and orientation of education, and
  4. Responses to critics and political roadblocks to the development of effective instruction.

Appendices provide a complete list of Engelmann’s writings and programs, and an analysis of the development of themes within his work.

Timothy W. Wood is a former researcher for the National Institute for Direct Instruction. He received his B.A. in History from Lewis & Clark College with a focus on twentieth century U.S. history. He is also a graduate of Northwestern University’s Museum Studies program.

Paperback versions are now available in countries outside of the U.S. through Amazon. Check your local Amazon site for details. 

Prefer to read this title on your digital device? Get the e-book.

Editor: Timothy W. Wood
Copyright: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-939851-03-1
Format: Paperback 


For a related volume, see The Science and Success of Engelmann’s Direct Instruction, edited by Jean Stockard (NIFDI Press, 2014). It honors Engelmann’s long career in education with insightful and detailed essays regarding the scientific basis of his developments and the legacy of his work. 

 

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List of the comments:
K. Hempenstall
The new book by NIFDI Press, Engelmann's Direct Instruction: Selected Writings from the Past Half Century is an inspiring text that adds to an appreciation of Zig’s contribution to education, but also brings into stark relief education’s lack of understanding and appreciation of his monumental body of work.

For more than 50 years Engelmann has productively addressed the conundrum of why some students learn following typical classroom instruction and some don’t. He avoided the simplistic learner-at-fault explanation for the latter event in favour of analyses of stimuli, communication, and behaviour as the important addressable variables.

He developed a logical technique for designing curriculum with an emphasis on avoiding ambiguities that might distract students. He also considered the gulf between a given curriculum and the resultant student outcomes. His approach focusses upon what processes are necessary when a teacher, working from a curriculum, attempts to ensure students master the concepts/knowledge/tasks/routines that the curriculum contains. Thus instructional quality becomes a necessary component of interventions. That the philosophy and principles of instruction been able to be translated into so many instructional programs is further testimony to their validity. The wide range of curriculum domains addressed by DI programs includes reading, writing, language, spelling, maths, and spoken English.

Empathy for students who suffer the indignity of sustained educational failure has clearly driven Engelmann’s endeavours. This is reflected in his shifting of the focus from student responsibility to an instructional focus. This empathy was not simply a saddening recognition (a hollow bemoaning) of a supposedly inevitable reality but a determination to do something productive about it. His capacity to show how this can be achieved has changed the trajectory of so many of these students. Unfortunately, the principles and practice of Direct Instruction have been widely misunderstood, and so many more students could have had satisfying and productive school lives had DI been more widely adopted.

Though the book contains a disparate collection of writings, Timothy Wood does well in providing a linking framework for the text. The breadth of Engelmann’s analysis is breathtaking, and while there is a significant amount of technical detail necessarily involved in explaining his approach, the book is eminently readable. The thread of optimism running through the book ensures the reader wants to take the whole journey through the teaching/learning process and beyond. Some of Engelmann’s qualities also shine through in his writings. In particular, one can’t help but be impressed by his dedication, endurance, and attention to detail. This latter quality is evident in his 1977 self-deprecatory quote about what is DI: “There is no big thing. It’s all pick, pick, picky details. Direct Instruction is just attention to a lot of tiny details”.

It is of interest that many of the long standing elements of DI are now recognisable in the expressions evidence-based practice and systematic explicit instruction that have increasing currency in the world of education. One hopes there will be a time in the future when Zig’s enormous contribution to education will be widely recognised and applauded. This book should assist that process.
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