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Direct Instruction (DI) is an instructional design and teaching methodology originally developed by Siegfried Engelmann and the late Wesley C. Becker of the University of Oregon. Although they came from different backgrounds--Engelmann was a preschool teacher while Becker was a trained researcher from the University of Illinois--both sought to identify teaching methods that would accelerate the performance of historically disadvantaged elementary school students.
The DISTAR (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading) program gained prominence during Project Follow Through (1967-1995), the largest federally funded experiment in public education.
Features of DI include:
- Explicit, systematic instruction based on scripted lesson plans.
- Ability grouping. Students are grouped and re-grouped based on their rate of progress through the program.
- Emphasis on pace and efficiency of instruction. DI programs are meant to accelerate the performance of students; therefore, lessons are designed to bring students to mastery as quickly as possible.
- Frequent assessment. Curriculum-based assessments help place students in ability groups and identify students who require additional intervention.
- Embedded professional development/coaching. DI programs may be implemented as stand-alone interventions or as part of a schoolwide reform effort. In both instances, the program developers recommend careful monitoring and coaching of the program in order to ensure a high fidelity of implementation.