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Effective Reading Instruction for Struggling Readers: The Role of Direct/Explicit Teaching


Struggling readers are more likely to learn essential reading skills and strategies if the direct or explicit model of instruction is part of the teacher’s repertoire of teaching methods. Directly=explicitly teaching reading means imparting new information to students through meaningful teacher-student interactions and teacher guidance of student learning. In this approach, the teacher clearly leads the teaching–learning process. At the heart of the direct instruction method are explicit explanations, modeling or demonstrating, and guided practice. Direct=explicit instruction needs to be an integral part of learning the major content strands of the reading process—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


The most pervasive conclusion of teacher effectiveness studies from the early 1970s was that teachers have a profound influence on how much students learn. Within these studies, research on effective teaching has clearly shown that teachers directly and explicitly teach students what they need to know (Rosenshine, 1995, Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002).


A number of major studies have demonstrated the importance of direct or explicit instruction to student learning. Explicit=direct instruction has been shown to be efficacious in learning and teaching the major components of the reading process—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). Baumann and Duffy (1997) of the National Reading Research Center summarized the key ideas that are instrumental in fostering motivated, lifelong readers.


Five years of research on fostering reading growth showed that reading skills and strategies can be taught effectively and efficiently in preschool and elementary school reading programs when instruction is systematic and explicit.


DIRECT=EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION: THE PRICE


Effective Reading Instruction for Struggling Readers: The Role of Direct/Explicit Teaching