Friday, September 7, 2012

What's the Meaning of ‘Direct Instruction’? - Response to Camp

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post “What's the Meaning of ‘Direct Instruction’? - Response to Camp” [Hake (2012b)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: In response to my post “What's the Meaning of 'Direct Instruction” (aka “The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of K-8 Education - Response to Camp”) [Hake (2012a)] at, Paul Camp at (non-subscribers may need to fill out a form to gain access) made 4 points:

1. Camp quoted Klahr as quoted in a CMU (1998) press release “Carnegie Mellon Researchers Say Direct Instruction, Rather Than ‘Discovery Learning’ Is Best Way To Teach Process Skills In Science” at that advertised Chen & Klahr (1999)

Of course, the press release should have placed “Direct Instruction” in quotes to indicate Chen & Klahr’s own restricted meaning of that phrase.

Camp might not have been misled by CMU (1998) if he had been aware of (or not dismissed) the final section “CAUTION: WHAT'S IN A NAME?” in “Cognitive Research and Elementary Science Instruction: From the Laboratory, to the Classroom, and Back” [Klahr & Li (2005)] at (scroll down and click on the title).

Klahr & Li wrote [my CAPS]: “In hindsight, we may have muddied the interpretation of our findings by incorporating popular terminology like ‘direct instruction’ and ‘discovery learning’ into articles and public presentations of Chen & Klahr (1999) and Klahr & Nigam (2004) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . One thing is clear from all this: IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE FIELD OF EDUCATION TO MAKE MORE PRECISE USE OF TERMINOLOGY before moving on to public debates and policy decisions. Indeed it is surprising that when education researchers and science educators join in heated debates about discovery learning, direct instruction, inquiry, hands-on, or minds-on, they usually abandon one of the foundations of science - THE OPERATIONAL DEFINITION. The field of science cannot advance without clear, unambiguous, operationally defined, and replicable procedures. Education science is no exception

2. Camp then wrote: “I see nothing particularly objectionable. . . .[[in CMU (1998)]]. . . . and certainly nothing that sounds like ‘drill and practice’.”

SO WHAT? Camp has evidently missed the point of Hake (2012a) that:

(a) education catch words such as “direct instruction” and “discovery learning” mean different things to different people; and

(b) most of those who attack the Benezet Method don’t define “direct instruction” as does Klahr. Instead most of them subscribe to the meaning of “direct instruction” implied by Mathematically Correct’s website : " 'DRILL AND PRACTICE,' 'non-hands-on,' 'teach 'em the facts'. "

3. Camp wrote: “I don't have time to track down everything [Hake writes], even if I had the inclination. All I can say is if what [he] didn't properly represent [his] views, perhaps [he] should have revised it. My responsibility ends with reading what [he] wrote.”

I agree with Camp's opinion that his responsibility ends with reading what I wrote. But the COMPLETE version of “what I wrote” is in my complete post at For Camp to criticize my view on the basis of only the necessarily abbreviated abstract without bothering to read my complete post is, I think, (in Camp’s words - see below) “ethically borderline.”

4. Camp wrote: “And, by the way, I don't appreciate having my words converted into shouting that I didn't do. That's ethically borderline.”

In the ASKII medium of discussion lists where italics are usually suppressed, one can attempt emphasis by, e.g., “*emphasis*” or “EMPHASIS”. My experience is that there’s not enough emphasis in “*emphasis*” so I prefer “EMPHASIS”. Camp’s opinion that “EMPHASIS” is "shouting" is, in my opinion NONSENSE!! (Oops, there I go again!).

To access the complete 22 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to SDI Labs:

“The true meaning of a term is found by observing what a man. . . .[[or woman]]. . . . does with it, not what . . . . . [[s(he)]]. . . . . . . says about it.”
- P.W. Bridgman (1927, 1960)

“When we say force is the cause of motion we talk metaphysics, and this definition, if we were content with it, would be absolutely sterile. For a definition to be of any use, it must teach us to measure force; moreover, that suffices; it is not at all necessary that it teach us what force is in itself, nor whether it is the cause or the effect of motion.”
- Henri Poincare (1905)

REFERENCES [URL’s shortened by and accessed on 07 Sept 2012.
Bridgman, P.W. 1960. Logic of Modern Physics. Macmillan. First published in 1927. information at An excerpt is online at A Wikipedia entry on Bridgeman is at

Hake, R.R. 2012a. “What's the Meaning of ‘Direct Instruction’ ” (aka “The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of K-8 Education - Response to Camp”) online on the OPEN AERA-L archives at . Post of 3 Sep 2012 13:20:41-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog “Hake’sEdStuff” at with a provision for comments.

Hake, R.R. 2012b. “What's the Meaning of ‘Direct Instruction’? - Response to Camp,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 6 Sep 2012 16:58:09-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being distributed to various discussion lists.

Poincare, H. 1905. Science and Hypothesis, Walter Scott Publishing; online at thanks to the Mead Project. A Wikipedia entry on Poincare is at

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