Cognitive modifiability in developmentally delayed children
Reinharth, Bernice Mednick
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This study was an investigation of the capacity for cognitive modifiability or intellectual growth in developmentally delayed preschool and early school children.;A modification of the Lidz Preschool Learning Assessment Device (PLAD) (which in turn is a preschool adaptation of Feuerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device (LPAD), a dynamic assessment instrument) was used to meet the special requirements of this population. Accordingly, the Kaufman ABC Triangles subtest was administered to 18 pairs of children at a special education day school. These children were matched by individual pairs according to IQ, mental age, chronological age and sex. Their IQs ranged from 36-99; their ages ranged from 33.70 months to 132.60 months. Assignment to experimental or control group was made blindly by the classroom teachers. The Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) session immediately followed the K-ABC for the experimental group. This involved an interactive administration of Figure Drawing, Human Figure Puzzle, Block Design, Block Building and Parquetry Design. For both the K-ABC and the MLE, observations about cognitive strengths and weaknesses were noted. Both groups were posttested with the K-ABC at 5-8 days and 14-20 days following the initial session. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate raw score findings.;Results of this study provide evidence of a capacity for cognitive modifiability in the population in question. The gains for the experimental group for both Pretest to Post 1 and Post 1 to Post 2 were significantly greater than for the control group. The relative gains of the experimental group increased with time. The fact that gains were not only sustained but actually increased during the Post 1 to Post 2 time period suggested a change beyond a simple learning process. A change in cognitive structure or thinking pattern had perhaps generated further learning. A characteristic of structural change has been defined by Feuerstein, Rand, Jensen, Kaniel and Tzuriel (1987) by its tendency to generate further change in a self-regulated manner. Therefore, the evidence of gains made by some children in the study without benefit of a specific experience with the task content, and the subsequent increased gains during an extended time period are suggestive of a change in cognitive structure.;Some individual cases were analyzed in an attempt to understand the specific characteristics of those children who were most and least likely to benefit from this approach.;These results support further investigations into the adaptation and application of mediated learning experiences to the developmentally delayed child, as well as further modifications in the expectations of potential for cognitive growth of such children.