Direct Instruction has hugely positive influence on learning outcomes


Highly-structured teaching continues to have a positive impact in the classroom, according to a new analysis of hundreds of educational studies.

The study focused on Direct Instruction – a method of teaching first introduced in the USA in the 1960s that uses fast-paced highly structured lessons – to assess its relevance to learning.

The Effectiveness of Direct Instruction Curricula: A Meta-Analysis of a Half Century of Research, was published in the Review of Educational Research, and states that all teachers should embrace the methodology.

Students taught using Direct Instruction methods noticed enhanced results in maths, reading and spelling when compared to pupils not taught using the methods.

Many of the principles of Direct Instruction are applied in both UK and US schools, and the analysis looked into 328 separate studies on Direct Instruction programmes that were implemented across a 50 year period between 1966 and 2016.

Jean Stockard and Timothy Wood, both of the University of Oregon, paired with Caitlin Rasplica Khoury, a psychologist at the Children’s Clinic in Portland, Oregon, and Cristy Coughlin, research director at Safe and Civil Schools in Oregon to carry out the research.

They noted that the “estimated effects were consistently positive” and that only 5% could be viewed as being “educationally insignificant”.

The methods were particularly effective for kindergarten (nursery) level youngsters, while pupils taught maths on a daily basis using Direct Instruction also saw strong results.

“Direct Instruction builds on the assumption that all students can learn with well-designed instruction,” the analysis states.

“When a student does not learn, it does not mean that something is wrong with the student but, instead, that something is wrong with the instruction.”

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has welcomed the research, although its authors suggest that Direct Instruction has not been “widely embraced or implemented”, despite evidence backing its effectiveness.

The study adds that a reluctance to use the methodology could stem from a view that it limits teachers as they cannot “bring their own personalities to their teaching”.

This is not necessarily true though, as the authors argue that using Direct Instruction does not “disguise or erase a teacher’s unique style”.

Scripted and sequenced lessons can form part of Direct Instruction and are implemented at numerous UK schools.