Explicit Instruction

Adapting Explicit Instruction for Adult Learners

Explicit instruction is systematic, relentless, and engaging (Archer & Hughes, 2011; Brophy & Good, 1986; Gersten, Schiller, & Vaughn, 2000; Hall, 2002; Hughes, 1998; Rosenshine, & Stevens, 1986; Simmons, Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, & Hodge, 1995; Swanson, 2001). It is directive in its focus on content and use of a quick pace when delivering instruction. Explicit instruction analyzes complex skills, sets class outcome goals to scaffold learning support, and ensures all students are engaged in learning. Adapting this research to teaching adult learners placed in developmental mathematics, the instructional routine included clear and concise language to teach procedural knowledge and demonstrate problem-solving operations by using think aloud and talk it through for students to master the pre-college algebra skills.

When using explicit instruction: teachers provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples; students receive extensive practice in use of newly learned strategies and skills; students are offered multiple opportunities to think aloud and talk through the decisions they make and the steps they take; and, students are provided immediate and extensive feedback during each guided practice (Archer & Hughes, 2011; Hall, 2002; Marchand-Martella, Slocum, & Martella, 2004; Pashler, Bain, Bottge, Graesser, Koedinger, McDaniel, & Metcalfe, 2007; Rosenshine, 1997). Consequently, college students were cognitively and behaviorally engaged throughout the teaching-learning interactions with instructors, math mentors, and classmates in Basic and Intermediate Algebra throughout the two year project. Furthermore, they had opportunities throughout the class for self-monitoring and directing their own learning as a result of affirmative/corrective feedback before completing homework assignment and taking a quiz independently.

Explicit Instruction Essentials for Teaching & Learning Pre-College Algebra

1. Direct Explanation (I do!): Instructor sets goal and learning outcome for class. Explains WHY the math skill is important (meta-cognitive), as well as HOW the student is expected to demonstrate mastery. Pre-teaches significant vocabulary relevant to the lesson and USES language that all students understand. Makes connections to previously learned material as relevant.

2. Modeling by the teacher (I do!): Instructor demonstrates exactly what the student needs to do to solve the problem while using a meta-cognitive process of ‘talking through’ and ‘thinking out loud’ when performing the problem-solving process. It is as important for the teacher to model examples as non exemplars. Teacher uses eye contact to engage all students in interactive learning.

3. Guided Practice (We do!): Instructor plans for student practice time to complete an exercise using “think aloud, talk it through” with a classmate, math mentor, or teacher. Instructor walks around the class providing continuous performance feedback to guide student practice in solving the math problem correctly.

4. Corrective feedback and/or verification of mastery (We do!): Instructor interacts with all students to ensure each one is practicing the correct problem-solving process. If students are having difficulties, the instructor provides another demonstration in a different way all the while talking it through for the students to “see and hear” how to solve the math problem. Instructor always provides correct answer with how & why there was a wrong answer using “thinking aloud” and “talking it through” to scaffold procedural knowledge and problem-solving for conceptual understanding.

5. Application (You do!): Homework is designed as time to practice the same skill demonstrated in class and parallels what was taught. Homework assignments provide independent practice to master the pre-college algebra skill and prepare for evaluation (quiz). This may happen in the classroom, in the MAC, or anywhere!

Adapted from:
Archer, A. L., & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Buffalo School District (August, 2011). Explicit instruction. Retrieved from: http://www.buffaloschools.org/staffdev.cfm?subpage=44452