3 Direct Instruction

Direct instruction (DI) puts the teacher front and center in the classroom. The idea is that by managing the class according to a set sequence of activities, learning will result. There are different models of direct instruction. The one we will use here is a classic from 1970s and 1980s. In that era UCLA’s Dr. Madeline Hunter created a project called “Instructional Theory Into Practice” (ITIP). I learned this as a new teacher in the early 1980s. You probably experienced many K-12 classes that were taught in this manner. As per our discussion in the previous section, please consider this as a reference model, not a recipe! Direct instruction in general, and ITIP in particular, is not universally loved or adopted by all educators. Nevertheless, this form of DI has found its way into all kinds of educational structures (such as faculty observation forms), so whether you use these ideas in teaching or not, it pays to be aware of them. Here are the seven steps in an ITIP DI lesson:

  1. Statement of objectives
  2. Anticipatory set
  3. Input modeling/modeled practice
  4. Check for understanding
  5. Guided practice
  6. Independent practice
  7. Closure

ITIP is an expansion of a standard 3-step lecture strategy:

  • tell them what you going to say
  • say it
  • tell them what you just said

Anyone who works in communications, marketing, public relations, or any human-facing field knows that repetition works for understanding. Make that double for education. If you want students to learn it, you had best be ready to repeat it. More than once. So let’s think of ITIP as a standard lecture (introduction, body, conclusion) with a few added features to get students more actively involved and to drive home learning by repetition.

1. Statement of objectives (tell them what are you going to tell them).

2. Anticipatory set (grab the audience with some interesting story or example that sets the tone for what will follow).

3. Input modeling/modeled practice (this is the heart of the lesson. You either speak to or demonstrate the content).

4. Check for understanding (find out if the students understood what you just presented. Do this by calling out students and finding out how well they followed what you were doing).

5. Guided practice. (Put the students to work doing some application of the content. Watch them work. Provide feedback).

6. Independent practice. (AKA homework assignment).

7. Closure (tell them what they just learned).

Pros and Cons

DI and ITIP are not what trendy avant guard instructors do, but to be honest, the instructional beats found in ITIP are “go to” techniques when some creative and “out there” lesson design starts to fall apart and you need the class to find its sense of direction again. ITIP is strong on direction. As an instructor, you know where there class is going. You can tell the students where the class is going. You can make the class go there. If control is your thing, this is a model you can really work with!  In K-12, (the original venue for ITIP designs), class control – as in managing immature behaviors – is a huge consideration. Although problem behaviors do occasionally occur in adult education, by and large you don’t need to herd the students just to keep them in their proper seats and so forth. So the question of teacher control centers more on how well is a particular approach working to get knowledge, skills, and abilities transmitted to students. Some swear by DI for such content transmission. Others swear at it. There is a school of thought called “liberation pedagogy”, for example, that opposes any notion of teacher-as-expert cramming ideas into the heads of students. In an EDI world, you need to take such “liberation” perspectives seriously.  Do not assume that all students are in your class just to be passive receptacles of your technical wisdom. Some students really do want you to take the lead! But some other students may want a bigger say in the what, the how, and the when of instructional goals and methods. So remember, the meta-model here is “layers”. DI layers can work very well, even in a strongly “liberation” oriented educational approach. The key to that is simply to get students to buy into the model before you march them through it. If students, for example really want to cram for an industry certification exam like Network+ or Security+, DI is probably the most efficient way to get a lot of content out there in a hurry and to help students cram it with a teacher’s help. But exam cram (thankfully) is not the only dimension of IT skills preparation. Sometimes exploration, creativity, and open-ended designs and problem solving come closer to what IT is all about. For the more creative side of IT, DI will need at the very least to be supplemented by other kinds of approaches.


https://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2074/Hunter-Madeline-Cheek-1916-1994.htmlLinks to an external site.

 Links to an external site.https://thesecondprinciple.com/essential-teaching-skills/models-of-teaching/madeline-hunter-lesson-plan-model/


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Making Connections: Instructors Guide for Information Technology Copyright © by Robert Bunge is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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