Explicit Instruction

Explicit instruction involves directly teaching students the content or skill to be learned, using clear and unambiguous language.

Teacher modelling and then teacher guidance is followed by scheduled opportunities for practice. Student/teacher interaction is high.

Explicit instruction is also systematic: there is a carefully planned sequence for teaching that is constructed in a logical sequence from simple to complex content and concepts, commencing from the point at which the students are already competent.

There is a strong body of research supporting a systematic, explicit approach, particularly when it involves learning new concepts and operations, and for students who struggle with learning.

Major reviews of reading research not only agree on the essential components of reading programs – the five ‘keys’ to reading – but also the most effective ways of teaching them.

Teaching has a powerful influence on student attainment, and different teaching approaches vary in their effectiveness.

What individual teachers do in class is pivotal for student learning.

There are essentially two approaches to teaching. The first is ‘explicit’ or ‘direct’ — I tell you what you need to know— and the second is ‘discovery’ or ‘inquiry’ — you find out for yourself.

These approaches are rarely used in their extreme forms, and in most classrooms there are degrees of explicit instruction through to degrees of inquiry learning.

Direct Instruction (‘capital DI’) is sometimes confused with direct instruction (‘small di’). Direct Instruction is a specific teaching program whereas direct instruction is a general teaching method characterised by a set of structures and principles.



Explicit instruction is a teaching model, rather than a specific teaching program.

Explicit instruction has the following characteristics:

Key research findings

References and reading

Australian Educational Research Organisation (n.d.).
Explicit instruction practice hub

Boxer, A. (Ed.) (2019).
The researchED guide to explicit and direct instruction.
John Catt Educational

Clark, R.E., Kirschner, P.A. & Sweller, J. (2012).
Putting students on the path to learning: The case for fully guided instruction.
American Educator

Education Consumers.Org (2015).
Supplement: A summary of the results of Project Follow Through.

Engelmann, S., Becker, W.C., Carnine, D., & Gersten, R. (1988).
The Direct Instruction Follow Through model: Design and outcomes.
Education and Treatment of Children, 11, 303-317

Mourshead. M., Krawitz, M., & Dorn, E. (2017).
How to improve student educational outcomes: New insights from data analytics.
McKinsey and Co.

Rosenshine, B. (2012).
Principles of instruction: Research based principles that all teachers should know.
American Educator, Spring 2012.

Stockard, J. et al. (2018).
The effectiveness of Direct Instruction curricula: A meta-analysis of a half-century of research.
Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 479-507

Sweller, J. (2022).
How inquiry based approaches harm students’ learning.
The Centre for Independent Studies.

Hi there!

Want to drop us a line?  You can get in touch by filling out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!