Overview of Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Basic
Instrumental Enrichment now available for younger or low functioning learners
The Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Basic (IE-B) program is designed to meet the needs of the younger child, as well as the older learner who is severely low functioning and needs a more systematic and developmentally based approach, and who is unable to use the IE Standard curriculum. In the summer of 2003, Feuerstein & Feuerstein presented the first sessions in IE Basic as part of the ICELP annual international training workshops.
The IE Basic program is an extension and expansion of the Standard Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment program (IE-S), which has been used in a variety of educational contexts throughout the world for more than 45 years. The instruments are based on the same theories of cognitive modifiability and teaching principles of the Instrumental Enrichment intervention, and enable the teacher to mediate the learner’s cognitive development according to the same structural and didactic principles.
For the two populations targeted by IE Basic – the younger child and the older learner with special needs – the program may be used as a preparatory state for laying the foundational content and concepts for future use of the Standard IE.
The Theoretical and Conceptual Rationale of the IE Basic
The Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Basic program is based upon a different rationale than that of the Standard Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment program, and from other cognitive and thinking skill oriented programs. It focuses on the establishment of a universe of content that is not available to the younger child, combined with an enrichment of cognitive functioning in the developing learner. Older individuals who manifest special needs regarding the development of their functioning often require a similar type of developmental stimulation to initiate or restore cognitive skills. As such, IE Basic lays the foundation for later learning and establishes the cognitive, social, and specific skill prerequisites for use in the IE Standard program.
Targets of Mediation
There are three populations in need, to which IE Basic is directed. Those learners who (1) require the development and/or acceleration of basic content and concepts in order to respond to the learning demands of their environments, (2) those for whom such systematic learning will provide prevention of dysfunction or delay (overcoming “risk” factors such as those that may generate conditions of learning disability), and (3) restoring or establishing needed functions that were lost or not sufficiently acquired at appropriate or available times (remediation).
Note: It is because IE Basic can be considered a foundation for the IE Standard program that those training at SCEL are required to have IE Standard Level I prior to taking FIE-Basic.
The Importance and Nature of Early Intervention
The importance of early intervention stems from the awareness that the human being needs not only the direct encounter with the world of stimuli in order to develop cognitive functions, but needs mediated learning experience (MLE). Otherwise, children will not be able to use their exposure to the world of objects and events in order to fully interact, understand, and construct their experience. MLE provides the child with the tools to organize the world to which he/she is exposed. From our point of view, mediated learning experience should be applied at the earliest opportunity in an individual’s development, systematically and consistently, by all of the meaningful people in the child’s life. Therefore, early intervention can be considered to be the natural reflection of mediated learning experience.
The Importance of Affective/Emotional Learning
Three of the IE Basic instruments (Identifying Emotions, From Empathy to Action, and Compare and Discover the Absurd) are directed toward helping the student learn about affective/emotional experiences, with the help of the cognitive functions. Here, IE Basic introduces a dimension of cognitive processing that is a somewhat unique perspective considering the various programs that teach “thinking skills.” We feel it is very important for the younger child, and for many older learners, including adults, to have access to this dimension of cognitive development.
The Goals of the IE Basic Instruments
The IE Basic instruments have two major goals. (1) Content: To make learners aware and knowledgeable of certain relevant content of experience that is more or less familiar to them, and from that content, to develop “working” concepts that will enable subsequent learning and cognitive development. This is the “knowledge base” required for cognitive development. (2) Process: Teaching the learner how to think, providing differentiated and repeated practice in the activities of thinking. The activities on the page, and the process of teaching that is embedded in the instruments, are organized in such a way as to shape more universal and more generalizable cognitive functions and mental operations.
The IE Standard program is generally “non-content” based in regards to the presentation of tasks; that is, the content is only a pretext for the manipulation of stimuli that engage the learner in mental operations. In IE Basic, the content is much more than a pretext for the establishment of operations. It is a goal in itself. It is considered as important, and as supporting the operations that will follow from exposure to content. This is the critical difference, which is specifically attributable to the developmental ages and needs of the learners for whom the program is designed. For the younger child (and for the severely low functioning older learners), the content is viewed as much more critical to the operations. For these populations, content must be more explicitly and systematically taught and bridged to specific aspects of experience at the outset of the teaching, than what is necessary for older and more integrated learners.
Basic Concepts, Adaptive Behaviors, and Skills Related to Primary Cognitive Behaviors
Orientation in space and related concepts
Number and quantity
Cause and effect relationships
Feelings and moods
The human body (body parts and their functions)
Motor skills (fine and gross motor)
Personal grooming and physical self care
Orientation in environment
Independence and helping with home activities
General knowledge about the immediately experienced world
Primary Cognitive Behaviors:
Attending to stimuli
Question and answer responses
This taxonomy suggests the range of areas in which content learning is necessary, and the opportunities to help the child master content, moving toward concept formation and cognitive development. It is not an exhaustive list, but it serves to orient the mediator (teacher/clinician) to the general scope of content areas that need to be focused upon.
Note: The above adapted by L.H. Falik from Reuven Feuerstein, Yael Mintzker, Rafi Feuerstein (2001), Mediated Learning Experience: Guidelines for Parents. ICELP Publications.
The Instruments of IE Basic (as presented in SCEL Training)
IE Basic, Level I:
Organization of Dots
From Unit to Group
From Empathy to Action
Compare and Discover the Absurd A
FIE-Basic, Level II:
Orientation in Space
Compare and Discover the Absurd B
Asking Questions for Reading Comprehension
Thinking to Prevent Violence
Note: The above adapted from the User’s Guide for IE Basic.