Implementation of Mediated Learning at The Ben Bronz Academy

(by David S. Martin, Susan Sharp, Ian Spence, and Aileen Spence, 2010)

The implementation of the Feuerstein Mediated Learning approach using materials from the Instrumental Enrichment program over a sixteen-year period with learning-disabled students at the Ben Bronz Academy in Connecticut was analyzed. Significant positive measured effects were noted in general reasoning skills, self-ratings of Independence as a learner, Analysis-Synthesis, Oral Language, Concept Formation, and Short-Term Memory. Separate teacher ratings of students indicated that students generalized cognitive strategies across subject matter, acquired problem-solving strategies, and increased their self-confidence. A number of factors would explain the results, including daily instruction in Instrumental Enrichment, application of a Feedback Awareness System, a longer school day, content-based courses, fully certified teachers, and smaller staff-student ratio. Statistical results are available.
The detailed conclusions of the study follow below:
1. While no comparison group of learning-disabled students in a similar environment was available, it is apparent that important and significant improvement of a number of cognitive strategies takes place in the middle-school years with this sample population.
These effects include concept formation, short-term memory, oral language production, analysis, synthesis, and the general reasoning skills associated with pattern
recognition (the Ravens test).
2. The growth in the above strategies is impressive between the time of entry into the program in which Instrumental Enrichment is used and the end of their first year in the program; growth beyond that end-of-first-year level into a second year is minimal. However, the effects from the first year of improvement are generally sustained.

3. Students perceive that their own cognitive development is improving, as indicated by clear patterns in their self-assessment; in addition, the program appears to result in a heightened student awareness of their own thought processes.

4. Both teachers (on a group basis) and academic advisors ( on an individual student basis) are explicitly aware of student improvement in a variety of cognitive processes that are fundamental to problem-solving in different subject-matter contexts.

5. Teachers perceive that their own teaching style is changed as a result of using the program with students, in the direction of employing more explicit cognitive strategies and helping students to emphasize and become aware of cognitive processes.

6. The school-wide commitment to incorporating the program into every school day, in addition to encouraging teachers to use similar methodologies in the context of other subjects, is a clear facilitating factor in the apparent success of the program in terms of its positive effects on students.

7. The adaptation of the mediated learning approach of Instrumental Enrichment to the Meta Learning Program for students who are not yet ready for the paper-and-pencil exercises of IE resulted over the long term in similar, though not identical, the same effects as for students who only had the IE instruction per se. No claim is made that Mediated Learning alone is responsible for the changes noted.

8. A number of factors coincided across the years of intervention: the incorporation of Mediated Learning through daily instruction in Instrumental Enrichment, consistent use of the Feedback Awareness System with students, a longer-than-traditional school day, effective remediation of areas of specific deficits, content-based courses as opposed to a focus on only skills-based courses, certified and well-trained teaching staff, and a smaller-than-traditional teacher-student ratio.

9. Mediated learning through the Instrumental Enrichment approaches clearly is at least one important factor in obtaining observable, sustainable, and significant improvement in a variety of cognitive strategies for learning-disabled students as measured in three ways—objective cognitive measures with recognized standardized instruments, self-perception of one’s own abilities to carry out problem-solving, and the perception of students’ advisors in regard to students capabilities after the intervention.