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Classroom Instruction: Pros and Cons of Direct Teaching

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 1/6/2012

Although direct teaching is one of the most widely used teaching strategies, it has been criticized as ineffective and scorned as the teaching method chosen by teachers who are not prepared. However, I consider direct teaching a powerful teaching strategy that needs good preparation.

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    Brief History & Background

    As a method of instruction in the classroom, direct teaching or direct instruction is probably the one that has the fewest flashes and sparkles. The students are not divided into groups. There are no experiments. And there is very little drama and student participation involved. But the effectiveness of direct teaching is evident. This is why the program called DISTAR or Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading was implemented by the US government for nearly three decades.

    Direct instruction or direct teaching was first developed by Siegfried Engelmann and Wesley C. Becker. The purpose of the teaching method was to help the disadvantaged public schools. Then, direct teaching was espoused by Madeline Cheek Hunter, an American educator who created the Instructional Theory into Practice. It is a teaching model that is based on seven components of teaching, seven components of instruction, and seven components of behavioral objectives.

    With its structure, direct teaching is considered one of the most powerful teaching methods. The procedure is systematic and grounded on sound teaching and learning principles. But direct teaching also has its disadvantages. There are situations that can make direct teaching ineffective.

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    The Disadvantages

    The structure of direct teaching can be rigid enough to hinder the creativity of the teacher. There is very little room to improvise because this method follows a step-by-step procedure. The procedure usually starts with an introduction, followed by the rationale for the instruction, then by the instruction itself. The procedure ends with a summary and then followed by an assessment.

    Direct teaching, if utilized by unprepared teachers, can be disastrous. For direct teaching or instruction to be effective, the teacher must have a mastery of the subject matter, must prepare a well-organized content, and must have excellent communication skills. Without these traits, a teacher could not effectively carry out direct teaching or direct instruction, nor could they develop higher order thinking skills in the students.

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    The Advantages

    Direct teaching is best for learning specific concepts or skills. The specificity of the objectives or learning targets also makes it easier for teachers to create assessment tests of high validity and high reliability. Students, for their part, do not suffer much confusion in determining which part of the lesson is important and which part is not.

    However, to take advantage of these benefits, the teacher must ensure that the contents of instruction are logically organized. The teacher must also ensure that the students already possess the prerequisite knowledge.

    What is your opinion on direct teaching?