Sunday, October 11, 2009

Direct Instruction vs. Differentiated and 4Mat Instruction

Direct Instruction is a more traditional instructional model that offers efficiency in a highly organized structure. Direct instruction lessons are developed with the “Big Idea” in mind so that all types of learners are addressed at the same time. There are 3 components of Direct Instruction:

1) Program Design
2) Organization of Instruction
3) Student- teacher Interaction

In comparing and contrasting direct instruction with differentiated instruction, the program design of the direct model consists of 5 elements that generalize strategies for a wide range of learners. Differentiated instruction is a model that does not generalize. In fact, differentiated instruction is a model that allows for student differences to be focused on individually or in small similar groups. The instruction of differentiated instruction is specific to student readiness, interest and learning types where as in direct instruction, instruction is directed to the whole group. When looking at the 4Mat model in comparison and in contrasting perspectives, the 4Mat model also looks at multiple learning styles like differentiated instruction. The difference is that the 4Mat model is based on 4 types of learners instead of all types of learners which differentiated instruction addresses. Essentially, the program design of the direct model is different in that it is designed to address a whole group instead of multiple groups or individuals.

When looking at the organization of instruction between the 3 models of instruction. Again, the direct model is highly organized and is made up of 4 specific elements. The instructional organization of the direct model states that students can be divided into multiple groups where each group receives the same precise and specific instruction on the “Big Idea”. The difference is that in differentiated instruction and in 4Mat instruction the groups are instructed based on the characteristics of each group. The groups would be organized by the unique learning styles in differentiated and 4Mat instruction.

All of the models require teacher-student interaction. However, the Direct Model requires less interaction than the differentiated and the 4Mat models of instruction since the direct model is designed to address the whole class as a group therefore there is less individualized instruction. The Instruction of the differentiated and 4Mat models actually is more individualized than the direct model since multiple learning styles are addressed in these models.


  1. I agree that the 4MAT model and differentiated instruction is more individualized. I feel that it is important we have some aspect of individualized instruction in our classes.

  2. Kelly: I think that you did a great job of comparing and contrasting the different models of instruction. Direct Instruction doesn't look at individual learning styles the way that the other instructional models do. I think that one of the key differences is what you explained in the last paragraph where you state that the teacher and student would have less interaction in the Direct Instruction model.

  3. While I think that students and teachers benefit from a more constructivist view, not all agree - see my note on Alice's blog. I look forward to seeing how your curriculum synthesis reflects your thought on this vast difference.

  4. What prevents teachers from differentiating instruction? Check out the real reasons at

  5. Hello, we are the creators of 4MAT and wanted to post a comment. Since my mother created it, I have grown up with it all my life!

    With 4MAT we encourage teachers to move students through four key questions: Why?, What? How and If? We encourage all students to move through these four key questions when they learn. So, why do students need to learn linear equations? We use the concept of relationships to connect this to students and how them how it relates.

    The ones that are often the hardest to integrate are the Why and If. Why is where you create meaning for students and If is where they adapt learning into their lives. They would need to demonstrate what they have learned in a new and creative way, or use it in the real world and report back on the impact. Service learning is often used in the If phase of 4MAT.

    Just thought I would throw in my two cents on this. We do not really separate kids and teach them differently, but move them all through these four key steps.