Friday, March 20, 2020

Engelmann (1931 – 2019) Much maligned direct instruction…


When President Bush was informed of the 9/11 attacks, he was reading The Pet Goat, a reading text by Siegfried Engelman. Engelman was a proponent of the much-maligned theory of ‘direct instruction’. Engleman worked in marketing and advertising and was fascinated by what made ‘messages’ stick. He believed that, far from being old-fashioned, clear and precise instruction of well-designed and implemented direct instruction, is an efficient method of teaching, resulting in good attainment in learners. It is an inconvenient truth that direct instruction is by far the most common form of teaching.

The Theory of Instruction

Engelman thought that we learn well from examples and that we can generalize through knowing rules to new cases, and that this ability lay at the heart of learning. His theory of instruction was not about talking at people and lecturing, but a more nuanced form of direct instruction, using researched forms of exposition.

Scripted teaching

When a teacher, he developed scripts for teachers that asked them to follow fairly prescriptive steps, in a number of subjects. They left plenty of room for teacher-child interaction but he felt that, given the problems of low attainment among poor and disadvantaged children, proven instructional techniques would be the best remedy. 
His approach was then formalized and implemented in the DISTAR Direct Instruction System for Teaching and Remediation, programme. It did well in real schools when pitted against other systems. In fact, it was the only intervention that improved all of the measured outcomes.

What is Direct Instruction?

Far from merely talking at learners, for Engelman direct instruction included seminars, workshops, practical assignments, laboratory work, even internships. Sessions deliver highly pre-scripted lessons, are short (20-30 minutes), with small groups of similar ability. It was, in many ways, quite close to what we now call ‘blended learning’.

Influence

Engelman’s work had a huge influence, especially on US schools, where his prescriptive methods were widely disseminated. He has had a bit of a revival, as research had rehabilitated direct instruction after its years in the wilderness. Barak Rosenshine has taken the idea and modified it into a six-step instructional model and many now see direct instruction as a useful brake on Rousseau-inspired, discovery and exploratory learning.

Bibliography

Engelmann, Siegfried (1980). Direct instruction. Educational Technology Publications. 
Engelmann, Siegfried; Haddox, Phyllis; Bruner, Elaine (2011). Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. New York: Touchstone. 
Engelmann, Siegfried (1992). War against the schools' academic child abuse. Portland: Halcyon House.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Carnine, Douglas (2016). Theory of instruction: principles and applications. Oregon: NIFDI Press.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Engelmann, Therese (1981). Give your child a superior mind: a program for the preschool child. Cornerstone Library
Engelmann, Siegfried (1997). Preventing failure in the primary grades. Association for Direct Instruction.
Engelmann, Siegfried (2007). Teaching needy kids in our backward system: 42 years of trying. ADI Press.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Steely, Donald G (2004). Inferred functions of performance and learning. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 
Engelmann, Siegfried (1980). Direct instruction. Educational Technology Publications.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Haddox, Phyllis; Bruner, Elaine (2011). Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. New York: Touchstone.
Engelmann, Siegfried (1992). War against the schools' academic child abuse. Portland: Halcyon House.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Carnine, Douglas (2016). Theory of instruction: principles and applications. Oregon: NIFDI Press.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Engelmann, Therese (1981). Give your child a superior mind: a program for the preschool child. Cornerstone Library
Engelmann, Siegfried (1997). Preventing failure in the primary grades. Association for Direct Instruction.
Engelmann, Siegfried (2007). Teaching needy kids in our backward system: 42 years of trying. ADI Press.
Engelmann, Siegfried; Steely, Donald G (2004). Inferred functions of performance and learning. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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