The Effects of Mediated Learning Strategies on Teacher Practice and on Students at Risk of Academic Failure

By Mann, Deborah; Hinds, Janet L. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Mediated Learning Strategies on Teacher Practice and on Students at Risk of Academic Failure


Mann, Deborah, Hinds, Janet L., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Abstract

The purpose of this case study was to determine the effects of Reuven Feuerstein's ten Mediated Learning Strategies on both teacher practice and on students that were at risk of academic failure. Changes in both teacher practice and student learning were analyzed to determine changes during the use of the ten Mediated Learning Strategies: Meaning, Intentionality and Reciprocity, Transcendence, Competence, Challenge, Control of Behavior/Self Regulation, Sharing, Individuation, Goal Planning and Self Change.

There was evidence from the transcribed interviews and teacher journal entries to indicate that these students as well as their more advantaged peers did indeed benefit from the Mediated Learning Strategies employed by their teachers. Mediation in regards to this study is a three step interactive teacher and student process by which there is an identification of a stimulus, followed by an assignment of meaning and the application of a teaching strategy that affects student learning (Payne 1998). Evidence from this study indicated that students who needed enhanced support as to content meaning, were better able to learn after receiving instruction via the mediated learning strategies. Noted also in this study were opportunities for all students, no matter the level of academic prowess, to complete the same types of instructional tasks.

This study was limited to one elementary school within a school district that is located on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. The schools within the district are all located in a low wealth, high tax area, where the overall reported free and reduced lunch rate is forty-eight percent. This school's population was approximately 1,300 students, and the ethnic characteristics of the students were predominantly Caucasian.

Introduction

For more than forty years, educators in the United States have tried various programs to improve the academic performance of impoverished students. The greatest percent of students who live in families with incomes below the U.S. poverty threshold, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, are under 18. The federal poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two students is $16,530. "It is estimated, that of the poor in America 40% are children" (Census Bureau, 1999). Listed below are statistics that describe percentages of poverty by ethnicity.

"Students from low-income families are three times as likely [to] drop out of school as those from more affluent homes." Female students who come from families in the lowest Socio-Economic Status (SES) quartile drop out of school at five times the rate of females from the highest quartile. Male students in the lowest quartile drop out at two and half times the rate of those in the highest SES quartile. The Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994 identifies poverty and economic disadvantage as significant at-risk factors. Although the number of poor people is both substantial and growing, there are also people who are chronically poor, due to under-employment, economic distress, and having been firmly entrenched in poverty for multiple generations. Students in these circumstances are at high risk of school failure (Laboratory, 2001).

In 1960, the Johnson administration made the education of the poor one of the great social experiments of the War on Poverty. Some of the direct outcomes of the War on Poverty were educational programs such as Head Start and Chapter I. These programs provided parents and their preschoolers with access to both academic and nutritional programs, which were intended to prepare both child and parent for the academic rigors to come. Federally funded instructional programs geared toward assisting disadvantaged students arose from these programs as well. The Direct Instruction program titled Distar emerged during these times. Distar was considered the first research-based form of Direct Instruction, which involved breaking skills down to their smallest cognitive units and then teaching each sub-skill explicitly and repetitively. …

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