Basic Philosophy & Assumptions of Direct Instruction
- All children can be taught.
- All children can improve academically and in terms of self image.
- All teachers can succeed if provided with adequate training and materials.
- Low performers and disadvantaged learners must be taught at a faster rate than typically occurs if they are to catch up to their higher-performing peers.
- All details of instruction must be controlled to minimize the chance of students’ misinterpreting the information being taught and to maximize the reinforcing effect of instruction.
The Research supports DI’s effectiveness – Project Follow Through
This was the largest and most expensive experiment in education funded by the U.S. federal government ever conducted. The most extensive evaluation of Follow Through data covers the years 1968-1977; however, the program continued to receive funding from the government until 1995.
Follow Through was originally intended to be an extension of the federal Head Start program, which delivered educational, health, and social services to typically disadvantaged preschool children and their families. However, when adequate funding did not materialize, the program administrators made the decision to convert Follow Through from a service program to a research and development program.
It was generally hypothesized that the mere provision of specific supports in the form of federal compensatory programs – such as Head Start and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – would result in increased academic achievement for disadvantaged children, if implemented faithfully by committed teachers. However, studies had shown that despite its successes, in general any gains that children made from Head Start (in measures of academic achievement) “faded out” during the first few years of elementary school. It was unclear to policy makers and others if the elementary school experience itself caused this phenomenon, or if specific approaches to instruction within schools were the problem.
Follow Through intended to solve the problem by literally identifying what whole-school approaches to curriculum and instruction worked, and what did not. Subsequently, effective models were to be promulgated by the government as exemplars of innovative and proven methods of raising the academic achievement of historically disadvantaged students. In all three categories measured, Direct Instruction showed more significant gains than any other model examined. Kids learned better academic and problem-solving skills, and their self-esteem was raised through use of this teaching methodology.
National Institute For Direct InstructionProject Follow Through – The Largest Educational Study In HistoryPutting Students on the Path to Learning: The Case for Fully Guided Instruction