The aim of our first pilot study was to raise awareness and generate evidence to demonstrate the outcomes, effectiveness and benefits of the Feuerstein’s Mediated Learning and Instrumental Enrichment programmes in primary schools and with children with Down's Syndrome.
From April to July 2016 Breakthrough Learning carried out a short-term Pilot Study for six children with Down's Syndrome aged between 4 years 6 months and 7 years 4 months. They came from 5 different mainstream primary schools in West Berkshire and Hampshire. Two hours of individual intervention was delivered per week per child for six weeks.
Reading University and Kingston University carried out the evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme on pupils’ cognitive development and educational attainment and organised the pre- and post-testing of the children.
Breakthrough Learning also worked with teachers who are trained in Feuerstein's Instrumental enrichment to enable them to carry out a their own pilot study with typically developing children.
Two schools took part in the pilot study. In each school 4 pupils from year 5 were selected to be part of the pilot intervention. Within each school, 2 of the pupils received the intervention while 2 pupils were waiting controls. The waiting control children received the intervention once the first 2 pupils had finished with their intervention. The intervention lasted 12 weeks
A further, more extensive study began in April 2018 involving 20 children with Down's Syndrome aged between 5 years and 11 years old.
Children with Down's syndrome
This was a very short study but overall, there were marginally higher gains in the intervention group with regard to short-term memory only. This is shown by the average increase in raw scores on the Digit Forward task, in which all three children from the intervention group showed improved performance post-intervention, whereas only one child in the control group showed increased performance (without intervention).
Typically developing children
Overall, there were higher gains in the intervention group for school 1 with regard to language comprehension (understanding complex instructions), general non-verbal reasoning abilities, short-term and working memory. This is shown by the average increase in raw scores on the measures used. There were not gains in the intervention group with regard to vocabulary size or self- reported motivation and self-regulation.
Overall, there were higher gains in the intervention group for school 2 with regard to language comprehension (understanding complex instructions), general non-verbal reasoning abilities, short-term and working memory. Also there was more increase in extrinsic motivation (i.e. pupils are more aware of what is expected of them). This is shown by the average increase in raw scores on the measures used (or decrease in the case of external motivation)
There were not gains in the intervention group with regard to vocabulary size or intrinsic motivation. In fact it seems that intrinsic motivation increased only for one child who was in the waiting control group.
Dr Vesna Stojanovik firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Jo van Herwegen J.Vanherwegen@kingston.ac.uk
What we are hoping to achieve through these studies
The outcome of this project will allow a trialled training programme to be established in primary schools within the UK. In addition, the project will have an impact on educational policies in that it will show how a 'thinking skills' training programme can improve cognitive and educational achievement in children with a range of abilities and additional learning needs, which would contribute to the debate about all-inclusive education. It will also show the importance of the need for this necessary training for parents and schools alike in order that all children can reach their full potential.