The process of experiencing mediated learning as a result of peer collaboration between young adults with severe learning difficulties
Ruth Kaufman - 2001
Mediation Learning is an interpersonal experience, where the mediator’s role is to develop in the mediatee functions essential for learning. The mediator focuses on his mediatee while identifying, analyzing, formulating, and solving problems related to everyday life and formal education frameworks. This study is focused upon the mediator, his/her experience in mediated learning and the development of mediational abilities and cognitive functions as a result of social goals.
In this study mediation was carried out in pairs and in a group format. The group was composed of low functioning young adults suffering from severe learning problems. They acted in pairs, using a peer mediating activity, and also worked in the group for replicating their actions, and for studying the theory of mediated learning, its procedure and activities. The tasks used were taken from Feuerstein’s cognitive intervention programme - Instrumental Enrichment.
Such a framework allowed me to identify and capture different aspects of students’ cognitive functioning as well as their inter- and intra-personal mediation. Each student had to play different roles, sometimes acting as a mediator to another member of the group and thus focusing on his/her difficulties and needs, at other times being a mediatee and receiving mediation from another group member. In addition each student participated in the whole group activity reflecting upon, analyzing, and evaluating his/her own and his/her peer’s and friends’ actions. All this wove strong experience in mediated learning, in different distances and modalities. Three different instruments were developed as a means of data collection and analysis: the mediation circular profile; the structural hierarchy of deficient cognitive functions map; and the process analysis flow chart.
The study unfolded as a micro-developmental process with students starting at a very low level of cognitive functioning and mediational ability and gradually progressing toward quite sophisticated methods of interaction, mediation, and problem solving. In the course of such micro-evolution each group member developed his/her own position and role within the group and in the group activities.
The findings support the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability while showing that even low level functioning people, who usually play the role of a mediatee, can be mediators. Moreover, by mediating to other people, they improve their cognitive functioning, abstract level of thinking, social and communicational skills.
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