Term Paper: Direct Instruction: The Effect

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[. . .] In her journal article "Effective instruction begins with purposeful assessments" Cobb (2003) points out that building administrators and reading specialists have to take a leadership role and help teachers differentiate between assessment and evaluation. Further Cobb suggests that teaching will be more meaningful when instruction is directed and when administrators and teachers collaborate to develop a curriculum that is integrated and reciprocal.

Though her article doesn't specifically support direct instruction, it does suggest that methods involving direct instruction techniques may result in more effective instruction in the classroom. Cobb (2003) also points out the importance of developing meaningful and guided instruction, and suggests that teachers must take the time to meet and discuss student work as well as share ideas and instructional methods including direct instruction methods, if they facilitate higher learning and purposeful assessment of student function.

In the article "Student Perceptions of Online vs. Campus Instruction" by Beard & Harper (2002) the authors tout direct instruction as a "modern day miracle" with regard to 21st century education. Further they suggest that direct instruction methods can make a tremendous impact on the provision for instruction and student learning specifically within colleges and universities (Beard & Harper, 2002). In their review of various instructional techniques they claim that students learn best through direction interaction which can be provided by professors as well as other students, and suggest that distance education fails to promote this type of beneficial interaction in the classroom, making learning less powerful and impacting (Beard & Harper, 2002).

In the article/review "Curriculum-Based Assessment and Direct Instruction by Lous Hershusius (1991) the author examines and compares two of the more popular methods of instruction including curriculum based assessment and direct instruction. Notably the author points out that special education literature and studies have emphasized the popularity and efficacy of both curriculum based assessment and direct instruction (Hershusius, 1991).

He confirms direct instruction has been utilized as a method to teach with great exactness by adding specific content components to the curriculum, however he concludes that there is still much to be discovered in the way of learning and suggested that direct instruction "reflects not a model of instruction for human learning, but rather an isolated set of control procedures" that are superimposed on but not related to special education students specifically (Hershusius, 1991). His central argument seems to be that additional research is necessary with regard to direct instruction and other forms of instruction in order to wholly address the needs of individual students as best as possible.

Though all of these studies clearly suggest that direct instruction is valid and effective technique for instruction, each generally utilizes small population sample sizes that may or may not adequately represent the learning disabled community as a whole. Additional research should focus on direct instruction and the applications it may have for a much larger population of learning disabled students. Hershusius article and observations related to direct instruction are perhaps the most telling, because he is one of few researchers that suggests that educators should not stop with confirmation that direct instruction works, but rather should continue to pursue alternative methods of instruction in order to best serve student populations.

Far too often when it comes to education a "one size fits all approach" is utilized. Many of the direct instruction studies conducted focus on the positive results of research but fail to emphasize some other aspects of findings which suggest that in some respects direct instruction performs the same or no better than some other methods. Boyd-Zaharias & Pate-Bain (1998) do point out that though direct instruction and use of learning aides is generally acceptable and beneficial in the classroom, there is also evidence to suggest that there is not statistically significant evidence that providing teachers with full time assistance or use of additional aids results in improved student achievement for grades K-3.

In addition more studies might focus on the teaching function in and of itself, and the skills and abilities of teachers. None of the studies conducted evaluates the teaching level or ability of the teachers conducting direct instruction education. There is a possibility that the teachers in the study were highly skilled or more skilled than their peers and that this impacted the overall results of the study. It is hard to draw conclusions without additional information and insight related to this subject.

Recommendations for Classroom Application

Based on the information acquired from the literature review there is ample evidence to support utilization of direct instruction in the classroom setting.

For instructors wanting to implement a direct instruction approach in the special education environment, they must first focus on mastering techniques and classroom applications rather than focusing on student deficits as Kozloff (2002) suggests.

A large body of research suggests the benefit of using teaching aides in the classroom (Allington, 2001; Gardill & Jitendra, 1999; Hollingsworth and Woodward, 1993). To that effect teachers should first work toward assessing student needs through evaluative examinations (Cobb, 2003) and then focus on creating educational aides that will help learning disabled students overcome any difficulty they are having with the material so they might best excel in the classroom.

Teacher instruction and curriculum should be well thought out and planned in a step-by-step manner where the teacher leads by example, and then evaluates the effectiveness of the techniques being introduced and utilized (Goral, 2001; Gardill & Jitendra, 1999).

For instruction to be most effective however, teachers' should incorporate a combination of direct instruction approaches with other approaches in the classroom (Hershusius, 1991) as this is most likely to result in the best possible outcome. For example, direct instruction may be utilized to facilitate learning comprehension, but a substantial portion of time may also be allocated to learning utilized other techniques such as a basal instruction or reciprocal teaching techniques.

Students should also be evaluated continually both before and after introduction of the teaching method to assure that the method is resulting in the desired or at minimum a positive outcome with regard to student achievement.

References

Allington, R.L. (2001). "Research on reading/learning disability interventions." In A.

Farstrup & S.J. Samuels (Eds.), What research says about reading instruction, 3rd ed. Newark: International Reading Association.

Boyd-Zaharias, J., & Pate-Bain, H. (1998). Teacher aides and student learning: Lessons from Project STAR. Arlington: Educational Research Service.

Beard, L.A. & Harper, C. (2002). Student perceptions of online and campus instruction."

Education, 122 (4), 658.

Cobb, C. (2003). "Effective instruction begins with purposeful assessments." The Reading Teacher, 57(4), p. 386

Gardill, M.C. & Jitendra, A.K. (1999). "Advanced story map instruction: Effects of reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities." Journal of Special Education, 33(1), 2.

Goral, T. (2001). The fight about reading." Curriculum Administrator, 37 (5) 35.

Hershusius, L. (1991). "Curriculum-Based assessment and direct instruction: Critical reflections on fundamental assumptions." Exceptional Children, 57 (4), 315

Hollingsworth, M. & Woodward, J. (1993). "Integrated Learning: Explicit strategies and their role in problem solving instruction for students with learning disabilities." Exceptional Children, 59 (5), 444.

Kozloff, M. (2002). "Direct instruction: A look at its features and benefits." University of North Carolina… [END OF PREVIEW]

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