Teaching New Skills

Published December 1, 2006

After reviewing additional research studies on teacher performance and the mechanisms of student learning, Barak Rosenshine and Robert Stevens in 1986 developed a six-function teaching model to describe the necessary sequence of instructional steps that are involved in having a student learn new skills.

The principles apply equally well to classroom instruction and tutoring, and they are part of a growing movement toward direct instruction techniques, which studies consistently show to be superior to “experiential” instruction. Rosenshine and Stevens recommend the following approach:

1. Daily Review: Review prerequisite skills.

2. Presentation: Start with a brief statement of goals; introduce new material rapidly, but in small steps; demonstrate, illustrate, and provide concrete examples.

3. Guided Practice: Guide student practice initially; obtain response and check for understanding; achieve a high level of active practice.

4. Correctives and Feedback: Elicit specific responses; monitor and give specific advice.

5. Independent Practice (Seatwork): Practice until responses are firm, quick, and automatic.

6. Weekly and Monthly Reviews: Systematic review of previously learned material.

George Clowes

For more information …

“What Characterizes an Effective Teacher? An exclusive interview with Barak Rosenshine,” by George Clowes, School Reform News, May 2002, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=9231

“Study: Student-Centered Learning Ineffective,” by George Clowes, School Reform News, July 2001, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=9903