What is explicit instruction?

Filling the pail

When I write about ‘explicit instruction’ I mean something quite specific. It is the set of practices that emerged from the process-product research of the 1960s and 1970s. Briefly, researchers visited classrooms, recorded various teacher behaviours and then looked for correlations between those behaviours and students’ academic gains.

Thomas Good and Jere Brophy worked hard to collate these findings but probably the most elegant summary comes from Barak Rosenshine in an article for American Educator that I often link to and that I strongly recommend.

The experimentalists amongst you will note that this model emerged out of epidemiological research – a set of correlations – rather than from experiments. This is true. But, as Rosenshine points out, it has since been verified in a range of different contexts.


Rosenshine has written a separate piece that helps explain why I prefer the term ‘explicit instruction’ to ‘direct instruction’. The latter…

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