Instrumental Enrichment: Standard Version
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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Standard: An Overview
Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) is a long-standing and well-researched higher-level thinking skills program for early childhood through adult learners, developed by Prof. Reuven Feuerstein at the Institute for the Enhancement of Learning Potential (ICELP.org) in Israel. This special program provides learners with a broad array of problem-solving strategies in an engaging format which uses color-based paper-and-pencil exercises, with the expert coaching of a specially-trained teacher or other adult.
Some of the cognitive functions enhanced by the program include:
All activities are designed to increase the individual’s capacity for learning. Each set of cognitive functions is taught through a thematic collection of activities, known as an “Instrument”, using content-free materials which the learner then uses to make applications (or “bridges”) to applications to school subjects and to the outside world. In all, FIE has a total of 14different instruments for older learners, while the early-childhood version has 10 instruments, each on a different cognitive theme.
An important part of the learning process is “metacognition”, in which the learner is led to consciously reflect on the mental processes she or he is using in order to solve the problems; thus, the learner eventually becomes independent because she or he develops a clear sense of the mental tools which she or he should use in most problem-solving situations.
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 learners’: (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 evaluation results have shown that the program helps:
- teachers and parents to assess which cognitive skills are slowing down their students
- 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. Highly successful implementations of the program have occurred in such places as Taunton, Massachusetts where, over a period of years, the program became fullyembedded into instruction across different subject areas at different levels in the school system; the results were significantly positive in terms of studentachievement 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, again with measurable gains by students. 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.
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.