All five instructional types have beneficial uses, but teachers should not rely on one type. Students make up a diverse population with varying backgrounds, knowledge and learning styles. What works well for one will not necessarily work well for another. Varying instruction makes a teacher more likely to reach all her students.
Direct instruction is teacher-centered. It is as you would imagine: the teacher giving instruction with little to no input from the students, as in a lecture. It is most often used when presenting new information. Direct instruction yields a 5 percent retention rate and is therefore most effective when accompanied by demonstrations, small discussions and visual aids. Direct instruction should be limited to 20-minute mini-lectures to prevent students from losing interest.
Indirect instruction is student-centered. It is best used when the process of arriving at a conclusion or product is as important as the conclusion or product itself. Concept mapping, problem solving and reflective discussion are all types of indirect-instruction activities. Indirect instruction is used for research projects and technology-usage projects. Tactile learners can appreciate indirect instruction the most because they learn by doing.
Interactive instruction is student-centered and requires students to interact with one another to acquire new understanding of a concept. Brainstorming, tutoring and interviewing are examples of interactive activities.
Independent instruction is student-centered. It is useful in building decision-making abilities. In independent-study instruction, the student teaches herself under the supervision of a teacher. Distance education is a prime example of independent-study instruction because the learner has very little interaction with the teacher. Some independent-study activities include research papers, essay writing and homework.
Experimental instruction is also student-centered. In experimental instruction the importance lies in the process of arriving at a conclusion or product and not the conclusion or product itself. Students are more likely to retain the information because they are actively engaged and participate in the learning experience. In experimental instruction students often teach one another.
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