FIE Standard Version: Improving Cognitive Ability
The “Instrumental Enrichment” program has 2 versions. Basic is for ages 3-8 and special-needs of all ages, and Standard is for ages 9 and up, through senior citizens. They include cognitive skills that connect with the entire curriculum.
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FIE Standard: An Overview
Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) is a long-standing and well-researched higher-level critical thinking skills program developed by Professor Reuven Feuerstein. It aims to improve cognitive ability for early childhood through adult learners. This special program was developed at the Institute for the Enhancement of Learning Potential (ICELP.org) in Israel. FIE provides learners with a broad array of problem solving techniques in an engaging format, which uses color-based paper-and-pencil exercises, with the expert coaching of a specially trained teacher or adult.
Some cognitive abilities enhanced by the program include:
- Time Relationships
- Numerical Relationships
- Finding Patterns
- Creating and Following Exact Instructions
- Orientation in Space
- Overcoming Impulsivity
- Using Logic
- Being Precise
All activities are designed to increase the individual’s cognitive ability. Each set of cognitive functions is taught through a thematic collection of activities, known as an “Instrument”, using content-free materials. The learner then applies (or “bridges”) these critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques to school subjects and to the outside world.
An important part of the program is “metacognition” in which the learner consciously reflects on the mental problem solving process she or he is using. This exercise helps the learner develop a clear understanding of the mental tools she or he should use in most problem solving situations. Over time, the learner is able to employ critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques independently.
The role of the teacher is unique in that she or he acts, not as a teller of information, but instead as a “mediator” – one who suggests strategies, asks leading questions, and coaches, so that the learner is actively involved in the problem solving process.
Research with both special-needs and regular students has indicated significant improvement in cognitive ability. Learners show improved: (a) reasoning skills, (b) performance on standardized tests, (c) habits of systematic approaches to cognitive tasks, and (d) problem-solving strategies in real-life problem situations. For example, students showed improvement in reading comprehension, math computation, finding multiple solutions to the same problem, and inventing problem solutions with clear sequencing and detail. In addition, implementations of the program in school settings have resulted in important improvements in student behavior, and in mandated state-test scores.
Other cognitive evaluation results show the program to help:
- Teachers and parents to assess which cognitive skills are weakest
- Strengthen specific ways of thinking and build new thinking habits on more than 200 problem solving tasks
- Develop metacognition (thinking about thinking) as students solve problems that gradually increase in complexity over 2 to 3 years
- Develop intrinsic motivation for learning
- Change the structures in students’ brain systems
- Transfer important learning skills to all curriculum areas
- Improve students’ scores on standardized achievement tests of up to two years’ growth after less than six months of intervention
Specific versions of the program are available for early education, special-needs students, sight-impaired students, inclusive upper-grade students, and adult classrooms for one-on-one tutorials.
Training of teachers is an in-depth professional experience over 5 days for each of the 3 levels of the program, and can be scheduled flexibly.
Implementation of the program is also unique. IC&TA is committed to providing not only the training of teachers but also continuous technical assistance throughout the implementation phases to advise educators on such areas as curriculum integration of program, follow-up with students, parent orientation, and evaluation strategies to analyze the effects of the program at the local level.
Highly successful implementations of the program have occurred in such places as Taunton, Massachusetts. Over several years the program there became fully embedded into instruction across various subject areas at different levels in the school system. The results were significant in terms of improved scores on state-mandated testing as well as in such areas as general problem-solving abilities. Other examples of implementations have included after-school tutorial programs, which have proven to be a valuable supplement to regular-school instruction, which show measurable gains by students.
Acknowledgement and appreciation for this overview of the Standard version of Instrumental Enrichment is given to Ms. Linda Borsum and Mr. Chet Francke of Quality Learning Systems International, for their development of this graphic overview.