A small-scale investigation of the group administration of Feuerstein's learning potential assessment device.
This study had two specific aims: Firstly, to determine whether or not, within a given group of subjects in a school in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the mediation offered during an application of Feuerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device (LPAD) in a group-administration format would result in modified cognition, demonstrated by improved performance in post-mediation testing; and secondly, to determine whether in the same group of subjects, the group-administration format of the LPAD would detect differences in the degree of cognitive modifiability of individuals. Feuerstein's LPAD follows a pretest - mediation - post-test procedure in which, by comparing pretest performance with post-test performance, the effects of the mediation, and hence the degree of cognitive modifiability of the individuals concerned, are determined. The present study operationalised Feuerstein's concept of Mediated Learning Experience (Feuerstein, 1979; 1980) and Vygotsky's concepts of mediation and internalisation (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985) by making use of Tharp and Gallimore's means of assistance within the zone of proximal development (Tharp and Gallimore, 1988). The pretest phase of the three selected instruments (Numerical Progressions, Organizer and Complex Figure Drawing Test), was administered to a group of twenty one black, female, high-school pupils. On the basis of their performance, the subjects were divided into matched experimental and control groups. In a second session, two weeks later, the experimental group received mediation in the cognitive operations and functions required by the instruments. Immediately following this, the post-test phase was administered to both groups. The scores of the subjects in each group were analysed: the scores of the experimental group as a whole were compared-to the scores of the control group, and the pretest scores of each subject were compared to her post-test scores in each instrument. In Numerical Progressions and Organizer, a significant increase in the post-mediation scores of the experimental group was observed, while the scores of the control group remained approximately at pre-mediation levels. The results of the Complex Figure Drawing Test did not follow the same pattern, however, due to difficulties inherent in both the instrument itself and the process of mediation. An analysis of the post-test scores of individual subjects in the experimental group revealed that some improved significantly, some a little, and some even performed less well on the post-test than on the pretest. It was postulated that this variability in post-test scores was an indication of the various degrees of modifiability of the subjects concerned, demonstrating the ability of these instruments, even in a group administration format, to begin to identify levels in the cognitive modifiability of individuals. The items in Numerical Progressions and Organizer were also categorised according to their levels of difficulty. An examination of the performance of subjects at the various levels gave further evidence of both the efficacy of the mediation and the degrees of cognitive modifiability of individuals.