Direct instruction : it's not 'back to basics'
Research indicates that direct instruction has a large effect on student learning, so it is time that all educators understood exactly what it is and is not. The author looks at certain types of teaching practices and the effects these have on students' achievement. Many teachers and teacher educators hold the view that facilitatory teaching - which includes so-called discovery learning, student-centred learning, problem-based learning and constructivist teaching methods - is superior and preferable to direct instruction, which has connotations of traditional teacher-centred learning. The author refutes this view. His and others' work in the area of effective teaching has clearly demonstrated that the best teachers create and manage a learning environment that is both student-centred and teacher-directed. A key aspect of direct instruction is feedback, which shows students what they can and cannot do. For the teacher its main function is to inform her or him of the individual progress of each student and to inform a judgment for the teacher of his or her effectiveness to identify what needs to be done to improve student achievement. We now live in an age of evidence and teachers need to ask some hard question about what they do, why they do it, how they do it and what effects it has on student learning and development. [Author abstract, ed]