27 SES 12 B, Teaching Strategies for Learning Enhancement
The study aims to implement two Programmes for thinking and learning enrichment in a Italian primary school. The two Programmes are the following: the Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment - Standard – Level I (IE, Feuerstein et al, 1980) and the Mental Structures by R. Vianello (MS Project, Vianello 2000). Both Programmes have been developed for the improvement/enhancement of learning and thinking potentials.
The crucial point in IE is what Feuerstein called “structural cognitive modifiability”, the propensity of human beings to modify their cognitive functioning to adapt the changing demands of different life situations. This is possible through a “mediated learning experience” (based on the Vygotskian concept of zone of proximal development), that frames and filters the learner’s direct experience. The essence of the Programme lies in the combination of the materials on one side and the role of the mediator on the other. The mediator promotes both cognitive aspects (selects, filters and organizes stimuli, regulating the intensity and duration and by stimulating the connection between the elements) and affective aspects (feelings of self-esteem, intrinsic motivation, responsibility and regulation of behavior) giving rise in students to the need and the willingness to learn (Ben-Hur, 2000; Brassel, 2001; Kozulin et al, 2010; Romney & Samuels, 2001; Vanini, 2003, 2006).
IE Standard -Level I consists of five instruments and accompanying teacher's guides. The materials used in the Programme are free of specific subject matter, and are intended to be bridged to academic school subjects and life skills. The instruments used in the research are some pages of:
- Organization of Dots, designed to enable students to identify patterns from clouds of dots in a series of geometric figures;
- Orientation in Space, designed to enable students to orient themselves to the four positions of right, left, front, and back and to understand different points of view;
- Comparisons, designed to enable students to understand the concepts of similarity and difference.
MS-Mental Structures is also based on the role of the “mediator” that becomes relevant in its active and dialogic function of stimulating discussions. It contains 3 instruments: the first (Correspondences and Functions Intervention, CFI) for qualitative/quantitative correspondences and direct/indirect functions, the second (Spatial and Temporal Notions, NST) for spatial and temporal notions, and the third (Symmetries and Rotations, SR) that helps children to elaborate and manipulate mental images (Vianello & Marin, 1997, 1998; Vianello, 2000).
Although the 2 Programmes are quite different, they share some aspects: for example the focus on the systematic exploration of the proposed material, and the attention paid to the strengthening of language (through “thinking aloud”). Moreover both Programmes aim to stimulate the acquisition of skills that contribute to empower students to understand, to reflect and think critically and to engage with important cognitive and social issues.
Starting from these premises, the research questions are:
What are the effects derived from the implementation of these two Programmes in terms of changes in the level of development of thinking and intelligence? And in terms of changes in relational / affective climate?
The general objectives are the following:
- To promote the use of cognitive enrichment Programmes in schools
- To give teachers useful instruments not only as teaching tools serving for academic purposes, but also as tools for enhancing the quality of classroom climate and teacher/students relationship.
Ben-Hur, M. (2000). Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment: better learning for better students. Johns Hopkins University. Brassel, E.G. (2001). Teacher perceptions of the effectiveness of Feuerstein’s instrumental enrichment and mediated learning experiences curriculum. Mercer University. Feuerstein, R. , Rand, Y., Hoffman, M. B., Miller, R. (1980). Instrumental enrichment: An intervention program for cognitive modifiability. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press. Feuerstein, R., & Falik, L. H. (2000). Cognitive modifiability: A needed perspective on learning for the 21st century, College of Education Review, 17, San Francisco State University. Lidz, C.S. (1991). MLE Components and their roots in theory and research, in R. Feuerstein, P.S. Klein and A. J.. Tannenbaum (eds), Mediated Learning Experience (MLE): Theoretical, Psychosocial and Learning Implications, pp. 271-291. London: Freund. Savell, J. M., Twohig P. T., & Rachford, D.L. (1986). Empirical status of Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) techniques as a method of teaching thinking skills, Review of Educational Research, 56, 381-409. Vianello, R. (2000). Progetto MS. Strumenti e materiali per il potenziamento del pensiero. Bergamo: Edizioni Junior. Vianello R., & Marin, M.L. (1997). OLC. Operazioni Logiche e Conservazione. Bergamo: Edizioni Junior. Vianello, R., & Marin, M.L. (1998). CFV. Corrispondenze e funzioni: valutazione. Edizione per la sperimentazione. Bergamo:Edizioni Junior.
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