Apr 20

Why is Teacher-Directed Instruction Useful?

Benefits and success stories are available for all styles and manners of teaching. Students come to the classroom from diverse backgrounds and may have varying learning styles or learning disabilities, making them more suited for a particular type of instruction. While there are pros and cons of teacher-directed learning, and student-directed techniques are popular for spurring engagement, teacher-directed instruction remains the most common. Many educators view it as the foundational cornerstone for effective learning.

Regardless of the subject matter taught, teacher-centered direct instruction facilitates the education experience and helps teach children the best practices and processes for how to learn. Let’s examine three other universal benefits of direct instruction strategies and reasons educators at all levels find it so useful and valuable in their classrooms:

1: Direct instruction is proven effective for all types of students.

Research has long maintained that direct instruction is the most effective teaching method. Project Follow Through was the first and most extensive study of its kind, comparing nearly two dozen models of instruction across more than 200,000 students over a decade. Since its completion in 1977, hundreds more studies have replicated the results of Project Follow Through—finding direct instruction’s teacher-directed learning to be more successful than alternative methods.

A 2018 meta-analysis published in The Review of Education Research examined 328 studies conducted over more than 50 years, concluding that direct instruction benefits students at every grade level, across different geographic settings as well as various racial and ethnic populations, from different socio-economic backgrounds, and experiencing a variety of learning differences.

In previous writing summarizing research on direct instruction, Dr. Jean Stockard, a University of Oregon professor and lead author of the 2018 meta-analysis, examines positive results of direct instruction across settings ranging from the Midwest and west coast to Monrovia, Liberia.

2: Direct instruction provides varied, detailed, and needs-specific education.

The direct instruction model is often misunderstood and thought of only as teachers delivering a dull, oral lecture as students sit silently and take diligent notes during one monotonous experience. In reality—and when applied correctly—however, direct instruction provides opportunities for more varied and detailed instruction tailored to students’ needs and levels of understanding. With students grouped based on ability levels, direct instruction can efficiently have students working at their appropriate pace and level alongside their classmates. 

Rather than waiting for students to complete and turn in independent-study work, teachers can assess how well students grasp concepts as they’re taught and modify lessons as needed to reiterate or recover certain aspects. Students remain engaged and continue to make progress because their learning goals have been clearly defined, and their work is rewarding as it isn’t too easy or too difficult. Students can still learn at their own pace, while teachers can keep better track of their progress in real-time.

3: Direct instruction emphasizes communication, interaction, and maximizing time with your students.

While the obvious key pillar of direct instruction involves teachers clearly presenting important information and dictating explicit instructions for guided and independent practice, it can also help build relationships by encouraging more communication in the classroom. Teaching through direct instruction allows ample opportunities for students to discuss ideas with their peers and ask more questions—which may require teachers to be more flexible and open to reteaching certain concepts. 

The guided and scripted nature of traditional direct instruction may seem restrictive as new teachers begin using it, but the processes for feedback, assessment, and other teacher-directed activities actually produce more—and more illuminating—opportunities for critical communication.

Every teacher knows how precious and essential every moment in the classroom can be. Direct instruction helps teachers and students get the most out of every moment’s learning opportunities by utilizing research-based and reliable methods. Especially with younger students deemed “at risk,” beginning to fall behind peers, or experiencing learning difficulties, direct instruction is proven to efficiently help improve learning outcomes. 

Hone Your Direct Instruction Skills with Avanti

The debate between student-centered vs. teacher-directed learning remains a hot topic in education. While each approach has its merits, and many teachers discover benefits to a blended approach between direct instruction and other strategies, studies show teacher-directed instruction remains the most effective at presenting new information while preparing them for academic environments they’re likely to encounter throughout their education.

Avanti empowers teachers by helping develop your skills and abilities for direct-instruction teaching. Presenting proven and actionable strategies via brief and on-demand videos, you’ll receive direct instruction from peers and master teachers who have refined their approach through years of experience.

Discover their insight—as well as downloadable resources, livestream events, a collaborative community, and more—by signing up for a free one-week trial of Avanti’s professional development platform today.

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