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Why does Direct Instruction evoke such rancour?

Dr Kerry Hempenstall, Senior Industry Fellow, School of Education, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

All my blogs can be viewed on-line or downloaded as a Word file or PDF at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/olxpifutwcgvg8j/AABU8YNr4ZxiXPXzvHrrirR8a?dl=0


 

 In a previous post (http://www.nifdi.org/resources/news/hempenstall-blog/403-reviews-supporting-direct-instruction-program-effectiveness), I listed those reports, syntheses, reviews, and meta-analyses that have offered support to Direct Instruction as a genuine evidence-based approach to instruction.

In this post, I want to consider what is Direct Instruction, and what are the criticisms that have impeded the model from achieving the strong acceptance in education that it deserves. As an avid reader of research in education for many years, I’ve been regularly bemused to read studies employing a wide range of recently developed programs, some of which clearly influenced by DI. Rarely is DI evaluated or even discussed by independent researchers.

Research supports explicit instruction

How has DI been viewed by educators? Obviously, those still enamoured with Whole Language, or those whose pre-service training was conducted by WL protagonists, are likely to be critical of explicit instruction generally. DI being perhaps the prime example of explicit instruction, and having had a long history, may have been a lightning rod for those who do not consider explicit instruction as appropriate. In my education readings, and in my experience in offering electives to teachers-in-training, it is frequently evident that many critics have little understanding of DI. They just know (or have been told) that they don’t like it!

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