Direct Interactive Instructional Model

The direct interactive instructional model involves five phases of instruction. These phases are referred to as orientation, presentation, highly structured practice, guided practice, and independent practice (Hollingsworth & Ybarra, 2008). Before teachers enact this model, they should first effectively diagnose each student to determine what prerequisite concepts and skills should be taught prior to the new learning. Direct instruction has a relatively solid emperical track record, producing consistent if not modest effects (Marchand-Martella, Slocum, & Martella, 2003).

The orientation phase establishes the lesson. During this phase, expectations are communicated, the learning task is clarified, and student accountability is established by the teacher. The phase consists of three steps to be carried out by the instructor. During the presentation phase, the teacher explains the new concept or skill and provides demonstrations and examples. It is vital that the teacher discusses the features of new concepts and provide several examples to contextualize the new learning for their students. Key to the process is the inclusion of oral and visual representations of the new concepts being acquired. Visual depictions of the process called a visual representation of the task, or VRT, support students in quickly understanding the basics of the new concept during the early learning process (Hollingsworth & Ybarra, 2008).

The thrid phase provides students with an opportunity for structured practices. That is, the teacer leads students through practice examples, working in lockestep fashion through each step of the problem as it appears on the VRT. The students practice as a group, offering to write answers. A good way to accomplish the lockstep technique is to use an overhead or digital projector, doing practice examples so that students can see the generation of each step. The teacher’s role in this phase is to give feedback on the studetns’ repsonses, to reinformce accurate responses, and to correct errors.

Phase four, guided practice, gives students the opportunity to practice on their own while the teacher is still in the environment. Guided practice enalbes the teacher tomake an assessment of the students’ abilities to perform the learning task by assessing the amount and types of errors the studetns are making. Finally, during the independent practice phase that begins when students have achieved an accuracy level of 85% to 90%, new learning is reinforced to ensure retention as well as to develop fluency. Students practices on their own without assistance and with delayed feedback (Marchand-Martella et al., 2003). The teacher’s role in this phase is to make sure the independent practice work is reviewed soon after completion to assess whther the studetns’ accuracy.

The direct instruction model produced more significant differences on both cognitive and affective measures than any of the eight other models studied in the largest Federally funded educational research project in the USA--Proejct Follow Through (Watkins, 1997). The students in the study went from being well below the 25th percentile nationally in reading, math, and spelling before starting in a program that used the direct interactive instructional model to being in the 50th percentile or above by the third grade. The study emphasized small group, face-to-face instruction by a teaching using carefully sequences, daily lessons based on the model.


Hollingsworth, J. R., & Ybarra, S. E. (2008). Explicit direct instruction: The power of the well-crafted, well-taught lesson. Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press.

Marchand-Martella, N. E., Slocum, T. A., & Martella, R. C. (2003). Introduction to direct instruction. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Watkins, C. L. (1997). Project Follow Through: A case study of contingencies influencing instructional practices of the educational establishment (Behavior Monograph). Littleton, MA: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.

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