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Explicit instruction

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Explicit instruction is a structured and systematic approach to teaching academic skills. Archer and Hughes (2011, p.1) explain that it is "characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved." They go on to say that there is an emphasis on proceeding in small steps, checking for understanding, and achieving active and successful participation by all children. 

If utilised effectively, possible characteristics may include: active, explicit, learner-focused, responsive, and scaffolded.

Explicit instruction unpacked

Teachers may:

  • teach skills, strategies, vocabulary terms, concepts and rules that match the children's instructional needs
  • break down content into manageable instructional units based on children's cognitive capabilities
  • review children's prior skills and knowledge before beginning instruction
  • begin lessons with a clear statement of goals an expectations, providing step-by-step demonstrations followed by guided and supported practice.

Children may:

  • engage in a learning environment that progressively withdraws scaffolding as mastery is increased
  • trial modelled metalanguage and behaviours within meaningful classroom contexts
  • move towards applying skills, strategies, concepts and rules independently
  • transfer new knowledge to broader teaching and learning contexts
  • identify when, and from whom, help can be sought.

Download the approaches of age-appropriate pedagogies in action: explicit instruction (PDF, 175KB) (DOCX, 35KB) to further explore the approach.

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Last updated 29 April 2019