This timeline highlights many of the milestones in the history of Direct Instruction. It draws heavily from the chronology of Siegfried Engelmann’s career as printed in Engelmann’s Direct Instruction: Selected Writings from the Past Half Century


1960–1964: Siegfried Engelmann worked in different advertising agencies and began analyzing techniques for marketing to children in order to determine what type of input was necessary to induce retention.

1963: Engelmann filmed his teaching sessions with his twin sons in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of his techniques and theories of instruction to education departments in various universities.

1964–1966: Engelmann began working with Carl Bereiter as a research associate for the Institute for Research on Exceptional Children, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

1964: Creation of the Bereiter Engelmann preschool.

1966: Give Your Child a Superior Mind is published.

1966: Teaching Disadvantaged Children in the Preschool is published. 

1968: Project Follow Through begins.

1969: First DISTAR instructional programs are released. Initially DISTAR Reading and Language.

1969: Engelmann-Becker Corp., Eugene, Oregon founded.

1969: Preventing Failure in the Primary Grades is published. 


1970: Direct Instruction Follow Through Model moves to the University of Oregon.

1970: DISTAR Arithmetic I instructional program is published.

1974: Engelmann’s first study using tactual vocoders with deaf subjects is published.

1975: Your Child Can Succeed: How to Get the Most Out of School for Your Child is published.

1975: Corrective Reading instructional program is published.

1975: First DI Conference is held, Eugene, Oregon.

1976: Spelling Through Morphographs instructional program is published.


1980: Spelling Mastery instructional program is published.

1981: Corrective Mathematics instructional program is published.

1982: Theory of Instruction is published.

1983: Generalized Compliance Training: A Direct-Instruction program for managing severe behavior problems is published.

1983: Reading Mastery instructional program is published (First revision of DISTAR Reading).

1983: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is published.

1984: Engelmann receives honorary doctorate degree from the Psychology Department of Western Michigan University.

1985: Mastering Fractions instructional program is published, the first in a series of videodisc programs.

1985: Expressive Writing instructional program is published.

1987: Understanding Chemistry and Energy instructional videodisc program is published.

1988: Earth Science instructional videodisc program is published.


1991: Reasoning & Writing instructional program is published.

1991: Engelmann sues the California State Board, Department of Education and Curriculum Commission for failure to follow administrative rules related to textbook adoptions.

1991: Theory of Instruction is revised and republished.

1992: Connecting Math Concepts instructional program is published.

1992: War Against the Schools’ Academic Child Abuse is published.

1994: Engelmann receives American Psychological Association Fred Keller Award of Excellence.

1996: Sponsor Findings from Project Follow Through is published.

1996: Research on Direct Instruction: 25 Years Beyond DISTAR is published.

1997: National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) is founded with Engelmann as the director.

1997: Horizons Learning to Read instructional program is published.


2000: Zigsite.com is launched.

2000: Engelmann is named one of the 54 “most influential people” in the history of special education by Remedial and Special Education.

2000: Journeys Direct Instruction Reading program is published.

2001: Funnix Beginning Reading instructional program is published.

2001: Español to English (Language for Learning) instructional program is published.

2002: Engelmann receives the Council of Scientific Society Presidents 2002 Educational Research Award (Award of Achievement in Education Research).

2002: Funnix Reading 2 instructional program is published.

2003: Engelmann retired, granted Professor Emeritus of Special Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

2004: Inferred Functions of Performance and Learning is published.

2007: Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System: 42 Years of Trying is published.

2008: Socrates and Education: Bussing is published on zigsite.com (first in Socrates series).

2008: Reading Mastery Signature Edition program is published.


2010: Direct Instruction Spoken English (DISE) instructional program is published.

2010: Could John Stuart Mill Have Saved Our Schools? is published.

2011: Funnix Beginning Math instructional program is published.

2014: Connecting Math Concepts Comprehensive Edition is published.

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