Analysis of dynamic assessment as an alternative to static assessment using the group administration of Feuerstein's learning potential assessment device.
Vygotsky (1978, as cited in Day, Engelhardt, Maxwell and Bolig, 1997) argued that a complete profile of intellectual competence must include both static measures of what the child already knows and dynamic measures of the child's ability to benefit from instruction. This study involves an analysis of this contention and has two specific aims: Firstly, to determine whether modified cognition would result from mediation, using three instruments of Feuerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device in a group administration format, as demonstrated by improved performance in post-mediation testing; and secondly , to determine whether the group administration of the three instruments from the Feuerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device will be able to detect differences in the degree of coqnltive modifiability of individuals. The statio assessment paradigm is predominant within the South African education system and is used to categorise and place learners in "appropriate" learning contexts ego special schools, special classes within mainstream and mixed ability groupings. The growing discontent with standardised tests rests mainly with the fact that they only access the manifest level of performance of learners. As such,it is contended that they do a gross injustice to those learners that are educationally-disadvantaged, marginalised and culturally different to the norm groups of the standardised assessments. The dynamic assessment paradigm is presented as an alternative to static assessment because it focuses on learning potential. It regards a learner's manifest level of performance as -a baseline and emphasises the need to mediate within what Vygotsky (1978) calls the learner's zone of proximal development to access his/her potential. The Learning Potential Assessment Device, consisting of a battery of dynamic assessment instruments, was used in the study to ascertain the effects of mediation on performance and to detect differences in the degree of coqnitive modifiability of individuals. This was done using a pretest - mediation - post-test procedure with a comparison of pretest and post-test performances. Through the process of random assignment, the population sample of thirty one grade eight subjects was divided into a control group and an experimental group. The pretest phase of three selected instruments (Numerical Progressions, the Organizer and the Organization of Dots) was administered to the group as a whole. The mediation phase was administered to the experimental group only and thereafter both the control group and the experimental group completed the post-test phase. An analysis of the results revealed that the difference in pretest and post-test mean scores for Numerical Progressions was statistically not significant. An analysis of the mean scotes of the experimental group for the Organizer revealed that the educationally-disadvantaged group benefitted from mediation to a larger extent than the educationally-advantaged group. The pretest and post-test difference in mean scores for the Organization of Dots was statistically significant. An analysis of the post-test scores of individual subjects within the experimental group revealed a significant improvement for some learners, a marginal improvement for others and reduced scores for some in comparison to their pretest scores. A number of postulations are given for the varied effectiveness of the mediation that was provided.