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Strengthening Thinking and Learning Skills

Project duration: 01/10/2016 – 31/01/2019

Project overview

The number of children being labelled as having “Special Educational Needs” is increasing. Children from ethnic minorities or less favourable socio-economic circumstances, as well as children with learning difficulties are at risk of underachieving and falling out of the educational system early. Despite international developments towards inclusion, many children are excluded and deprived of adequate education, because of an impairment or functional difficulties: there is not enough support, teachers lack knowledge how to include different children, and assessment reports are rarely suitable for inclusive teaching.

Researchers in cognitive education have argued that by teaching fundamental principles of thought, perception, learning and problem-solving, children can become effective learners.

Feuerstein’s Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) describes a systematic mode of interaction between a learner and a ‘mediator’. Unlike a traditional teacher, a mediator places him/herself both between the learner and the stimulus as well as the learner and the response. Through the process of mediation, the cognitive structure of a student is affected. Different from a teacher who is concerned with solving a particular content-based problem or assignment, the mediator is focused on how the student approaches solving the problem. The task is not the end-goal, but rather only a means to involve the mediator in improving a student’s problem solving, critical thinking, and learning process.

Mediated learning is the process by which a mediator organises and interprets the world to a child. When an individual gives meaning to events, helps children select relevant from irrelevant variables, assists in abstracting rules for regularly occuring phenomena, and generally attempts to develop children’s abilities to think, that individual is engaged in mediated learning.

This project wants to address the situation of children experiencing barriers to learning and combat early school leaving.

By helping them to adopt better thinking strategies, enhancing their learning potential and cognitive functioning we want to increase their chances to complete their education and to become socially and economically integrated independent individuals.

This can be achieved only by teachers and educators equipped with deep knowledge, competences and skills needed to address specific needs of their students, to help them to reduce disparities in learning outcomes and address low achievement in basic skills.

The following objectives (Ob) will help us to meet the defined goal:

Ob1. To provide teachers and educators with the methodological support, assistance and source of inspiration for better understanding and effective use of MLE and IE. Video material will be prepared which will help us to collect and exchange information and experience regarding best practices. Provided with lesson analysis, comments and discussions, the material may play a crucial role in self-development of mediators.

Ob2. To transfer the experience of mediated learning from the framework of the content free IE program to content rich teaching situations in the classroom. 20 demonstration lessons will be recorded. Thorough analysis of the lessons will be provided with the aim to point out those sequences where mediated learning had been put into practice. A model of training course for intentional and consious use of mediation in activities with children will be developed and tried out.

Ob3. To explore the possibilities and opportunities for application of dynamic approach in assessment in everyday teaching-learning situations. The role of dynamic assessment is to find examples of good learning, to identify obstacles to more effective learning and performance and find out ways of improvements.

A practical, ready to use course material summarizing the principles of the dynamic assessment and illustrating its application on classroom situations will be developed and answering the question: how much and what kind of intervention is needed to improve the pupil´s performance? We aim to elaborate on more suitable approaches to assessment in the classroom and prevent educational failures.

Ob4. To collect and exchange information regarding best practices of using mediated learning experience in different environments.

Our aim is to produce innovative deliverables:

1) DVD and workbook with recorded material from FIE lessons enriched with thorough lesson analysis and comments,  suitable as learning/guiding and coaching source for teachers and mediators. Lessons will be filmed in different environments and different countries to get the material as various as possible.

2) Training course for teaching how to use the mediated learning experience in everyday situations in or out the classroom. It will describe and teach how to turn every event  and every experience into an opportunity for change, how to interract  with the recipient of the mediation so that the parameters of MLE are put into practice.

3) Analysis and informative material on application of dynamic approach in assessment in everyday teaching together with procedure how to use the approach

4) Experience based collection of best practices in implementing  mediated learning experience to different settings and environments as a coaching tool.

Through development of user-friendly tools we want to help teachers, pedagogues, educators, practitioners and parents to use more effective teaching methods and to reduce disparities in learning outcomes affecting disadvantaged learners, as well as support schools to tackle early school leaving.

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