Is there Value in Direct Instruction?

I just received a PLC email from my old school about the value of direct instruction. “In our pursuit of research based teaching methods (aka “best practices”) , see this interesting article on the value of direct instruction. A brief Picture 2summary of the results of one study: We find that students score higher on standardized tests in the subject in which their teachers spent more time on lecture-style presentations than in the subject in which the teacher devoted more time to problem-solving activities… Another way to state the same finding is that students learn less in the classes in which their teachers spend more time on in-class problem solving.”

Ever since John Dewey explored hands-on learning at the University of Chicago Laboratory School more than a century ago, lecture-style presentations have been criticized as traditonal and outdated methods. The Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University found that students did better on asesssments if their teacher’s used lecture-style instruction. If you carefully read the results, the study explains progressive teaching methods might also be Picture 1beneficial if properly combined with lectures.

If you look at the graphics to the left, they show that teachers use a combination of different teaching methods. The results indicate that there might be an adverse impact on student learning. Today’s classrooms require a combination of mini lectures, collaboration, digital literacy, and problem based learning. See a previous post about project based learning called Doing History.

Check out the articles I referenced:

http://educationnext.org/eighth-grade-students-learn-more-through-direct-instruction/
http://educationnext.org/sage-on-the-stage/

One thought on “Is there Value in Direct Instruction?

  1. “…We find that students score higher on *standardized tests* in the subject in which their teachers spent more time on lecture-style presentations than in the subject in which the teacher devoted more time to problem-solving activities… ”

    If learning and understanding = high scores on standardized tests, then I am all for direct instruction as the main means of ‘delivering’ information. However, I do not believe that to be the case. Lectures provide background knowledge, while project, problem and inquiry based learning require students to do something with that information. Striking a balance is the key!

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