Direct Instruction:
A Transactional Model*

Citation: Huitt, W. (2008). Direct instruction: A transactional model. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from

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There are a variety of models of instruction that have been derived from different theories of learning. These different models identify different desired learning outcomes and propose different instructional practices. Research shows that one approach to instruction, called direct or explicit instruction (Rosenshine, 1995), generally produces better scores on standardized tests of basic skills than do other approaches. Models based on this approach are based on a combination of operant conditioning and information processing learning theories. Most models of direct instruction focus on expected teacher behavior. The primary purpose of the transactional model described below is to focus on the repeated interaction of teachers and students throughout the lesson. This is based on research showing that increased teacher/student interaction is correlated with increased student achievement (Rosenshine, 1971).

Event Teacher Behavior Student Behavior
  • Review
  • provides an opportunity for students to recall and/or examine what they have already learned in preparation for the current lesson
  • focus on prerequisite skills and concepts
  • check homework and discuss difficult questions
  • link the lesson to previous ones
  • work a problem similar to those done already
  • review the previous lesson -- explaining what they did and why
  • What
  • presents the specific concept(s) and skill(s) to be learned
  • read a stated objective for the lesson
  • hear what the topic of the lesson is
  • see what they will be able to do at the end of a lesson
  • Why
  • states a reason or a need for learning the skill(s) or concept(s)
  • see how the lesson is related to the real world relate the lesson to their own interests
  • discuss how the skill or concept can be applied to other subject areas
  • see how the lesson relates to their deficiencies
  • develops or explains the concepts and skills to be learned
  • hear an explanation
  • use manipulative materials to develop concepts and/or skills
  • have class discussions
  • see concrete examples
  • watch films or filmstrips
  • read explanations in textbooks
  • interact with Computer Assisted Instruction program
Probe & Respond
  • probes students as to their initial understanding of concepts and skills
  • answer teacher questions
  • verbalize understandings
  • model demonstrated processes
  • generate examples and non-examples of a concept
Guided Practice
  • closely supervises the students as they begin to develop increased proficiency by completing one or two short tasks at a time
  • read a paragraph aloud in a reading group
  • complete one or two math problems in an assignment, while the teacher monitors their work
  • complete an activity on the board, while others do the same
  • activity at their seats, and the teacher monitors the work
  • use structural analysis skills to orally decode new vocabulary words
Independent Practice
  • allows students to work independently, with little or no teacher interaction, to reinforce individual proficiency with concepts and skills
  • complete seatwork assignments
  • drill on basic arithmetic facts
  • begin or complete homework assignments
  • play games related to specific skills or concepts
Periodic Review
  • provides students opportunity to have distributed practice on previously covered content and skills
  • demonstrate retention of previously learned concepts and skills
(Daily Success)
  • checks students work each day and offers corrective instruction as necessary
  • complete independent work at or above a given level of proficiency
  • checks students work at the end of each unit of instruction
  • demonstrate knowledge and application of concepts and skills at or above a given level of proficiency
(Provided throughout the lesson as needed)
Cues and Prompts
  • provides students with signals and reminders designed to sustain the learning activity and to hold students accountable
  • attend to signals and/or reminders continue working on assigned activity
Corrective Feedback
  • tells students whether their answers are correct, see or hear the correct answers, and are told why those answers are correct
  • read correct answers aloud
  • write correct solutions to math problems on board
  • check spelling by comparing their answers to those on a transparency
  • support their answers to reading comprehension questions by reading aloud from the text

Putting this all together the model looks like this:



* Material adapted from: Caldwell, J., Huitt, W., & French, V. (1981). Research-based classroom modifications for improving student engaged time. In D. Helms, A. Graeber, J. Caldwell, & W. Huitt (Eds.). Leader's guide for student engaged time. Philadelphia: Research for Better Schools, Inc.

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