Common Myths & Misconceptions
Numerous myths about DI circulate in education circles, usually by people who have never taught the program or never seen it used by teachers who have received proper training and support. These myths have to do with the supposed rigidity of DI, its inappropriateness for certain populations and its restrictions on creativity. These myths are myths.
After you’ve taught the program for a few months, you will see that the program has the flexibility to accommodate the needs of lower and higher performing students, and it allows teacher creativity within the confines of the script, much as a play script allows an actor to be creative within its confines. Most importantly, you will see that all students succeed in ways you hadn’t thought possible before. The DI programs provide teachers with a powerful tool for presenting an instructional sequence that has been verified to be highly effective with the full range of learners. By providing effective wording and examples, the scripts allow teachers to focus on students’ responses.
Teachers don’t need to worry about how to present critical skills and concepts. Instead, they can concentrate on what students know, what they don’t understand, and where they need additional practice or support. Your interaction with students will increase with DI because the DI programs elicit high rates of student responses in each lesson. With DI, you will have a much better understanding of your students’ skill levels than ever before. DI is effective with all students as long as they are placed and grouped at their skill levels and taught to mastery every day.
Groups should be homogeneous with respect to students’ current performance level, and these groups should be flexible in order to incorporate different rates of student learning. Some students master skills and concepts quickly and may be ready to move to a higher group. Other students need additional practice and might need to be moved to a lower group. These adjustments to student placement are made on a weekly basis through the analysis of student performance data. To the largest extent possible with the school’s resources, instruction is individualized for students through flexible grouping.
Senior Direct Instruction Author Siegfried Engelmann addresses many of the myths related to DI in a series of videos recorded in 2017. In the video segments, you will hear Zig's thoughts on everything from "Drill and Kill" to multi-sensory learning to teachers' creativity in a DI classroom.
For more, see the work of:
Professor Sara Tarver - University of Wisconsin
pdf Myths and Truths About Direct Instruction (Tarver, 1998)
pdf Research on Direct Instruction: 25 Years Beyond DISTAR, Chapter 3: “Myths about Direct Instruction” (Adams & Engelmann, 1996)