Direct and Indirect Instruction

Instructional variety and flexibility is key to keeping students engaged and interested. Employing a balance of both direct and indirect instruction formats is a valuable way of diversifying teaching strategies to compose, create and manipulate lessons. Direct instruction is teacher-centered, and an effective way of “teaching knowledge acquisition of facts, rules and action sequences…” (Borich, p.223).  Direct instruction is characterized as:

1)   Full-class instruction instead of small groups

2)   Organization of learning around question posed

3)   Provision of detailed and redundant practice

4)   Presenting material so learners master one new fact, rule, or sequence before the next

5)   Arrangement of the room maximizes recitation and practice (p.225)

As a secondary English teacher, I might use direct instruction when teaching my students how to structure and format a research paper, elements of a plot, literary devices or grammar rules for the proper use of commas, colons, and semi colons.

Situations that may require strategies other than direct instruction include

1)   “presenting complex material with objectives at the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels of the cognitive domain” (Borich, p.226)

2)   “presenting content that must be learned gradually over a long period” (p.226)

Indirect instruction is more student-focused, and teaches “inquiry and problem solving involving concepts, patters, and abstractions…” (p.223). The inquiry process emphasizes the ways in which things are organized, changing and connected whereas conceptual learning includes identifying essential and nonessential attributes, selecting positive and negative examples, and developing rules that define the attributes of the concept (p.269). Both of these will be learning strategies that I will undoubtedly use in my secondary English classroom to identify literary, interpret and connect literary concepts to deepen student understanding of a variety of texts.


Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.