Reuven Feuerstein

Heim Upp J. Bruner Lev Vygotsky Reuven Feuerstein



 Reuven Feuerstein (

Dr. Reuven Feuerstein, a clinical psychologist who studied at the University of Geneva under Jean Piaget, Andre Rey, Barbel Inhelder, and Marguerite Loosli Uster, went on to earn his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the Sorbonne. He is currently the director of the Center for Development of Human Potential in Jerusalem. From 1970 until the present Dr. Feuerstein has served as Professor in the School of Education at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel; he is also the Director of the Hadassah-Wizo-Canada Research Institute, in Jerusalem, Israel (

Intelligence is not a static structure, but an open, dynamic system that can continue to develop throughout life” Dr. Reuven Feuerstein's revolutionary words, not yet widely accepted by the psychological and educational establishments, make an enormous difference in how we perceive the role of education. If intelligence is modifiable, and if indeed intelligence can be taught and learned, education has a much greater role than might have been previously imagined.

His life's work has been the development of the Theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability and its emergent practices of dynamic assessment, active intervention, and placement of both children and adults in “shaping environments”.   He says:


 “The concept of mediated learning experience, which we describe as the proximal determinant of differential cognitive development, is based on the assumption that a human development can be neither conceived of as a sole epiphenomenon of neurophysiological maturation nor considered as simply the product of the individual’s chance encounter with and direct exposure to stimuli and his active interaction with them.  In addition to these determinants, it is by the flow of information transmitted to the individual by a process of mediation through channels produced by mediation itself that higher mental functions are developed.  It is the mediation process itself that constructs both its content and structure.... Implied by the concept of mediated learning experience is an intergenerational relationship determined by the strong need for ensuring continuity beyond the biological existence of the individual. Cultural and spiritual continuity are materialized in a variety of ways and situations.  The psychologist has seldom been concerned with the integration of cultural transmission within the process of learning, leaving the definition of modalities of cultural transmission and its teleological dimensions to the cultural anthropologist” (Feuerstein.1980. p.xvii).


Instrumental Enrichment (IE) is an intervention program designed by Feuerstein to enhance the cognitive skills necessary for independent thinking.  The goal of the IE program is to shape the cognitive structure of the individual and to produce and set in motion his further development.  The aim is to modify the retarded performer by change his passive and dependent cognitive style into characteristic of an autonomous and independent thinker.

Feuerstein realized that the parents of the so - called “retarded” children had been unable to give order and meaning to their children's experiences. The mass of different stimuli they received from the world was not organized into any stream of experience that could be recalled to assess new situations or solve new problems.

He developed an intervention that enables children to make sense of the world around them. It is called the "mediated learning experience."

Through mediation, IE students were able to apply the principles they learned to any thinking situation and deal with increasingly complex problems and situations.

Feuerstein believed that cognitive deficiencies could be corrected and that intelligence is modifiable, not fixed. Once cognitive skills are taught and cultural experiences are enriched, even the "retarded" individuals can extend their intellectual powers dramatically. As a result of their stimulated cognitive growth and motivation, IE students from around the world have changed from passive recipients of information to self-confident and active learners.

 IE seeks to sharpen critical thinking with the concepts, skills, strategies, operations, and attitudes necessary for independent learning; to diagnose and correct deficiencies in thinking skills; and to help individuals learn how to learn.

Mastery of the tasks in Instrumental Enrichment is never a matter of rote learning or mere reproduction of a learned skill. It always involves the application of rules, principles, or strategies in a variety of tasks. Thus, IE systematically reinforces the cognitive functions that enable learners to define problems, make connections and see relationships, motivate themselves, and improve their work habits. Through IE, students develop the ability to apply their cognitive functions to any problem or thinking situation.

The Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment program contains more than 500 pages of paper- and –pencil exercises divided into 15 instruments. Each instrument emphasize on specific cognitive deficiency but address itself to the acquisition of many other prerequisites of learning as well.  Fourteen of these instruments are regularly used in any classroom implementation of the program and provide enough material for a 1-hour lesson, 3-5 days weekly for, depending on the program, a period of 2 or 3 years.

Instruments are selected to match the specific needs of the pupil under treatment (Feuerstein. 1984).

The IE exercises can be divided into two broad categories: 1) those that are accessible to even the more or less totally or functionally illiterate individual, and 2) those that require a relatively proficient level of literacy and verbal comprehension.

The use of IE is not delayed with adolescents or young adults until they overcome their difficulties in the use of written materials. Those parts that require certain levels of competency in reading can even be used with illiterate adolescents because of the limited requirements of material and the careful selection of words to be read and written (Feuerstein. 1984).

The non-verbal instruments are Organization of Dots, Analytic Perception, and Illustrations.

The instruments that have limited vocabulary and may therefore require teacher assistance in reading the directions are Orientation in Space I, II, and III, Comparisons, Family Relations, Numerical Progression, and Syllogisms.

The instruments that need independent reading and comprehension skills are Categorization, Instructions, Temporal Relations, Transitive Relations, and Representational Stencil Design.

Several other instruments, not included in the 2-year curriculum, but in various stages of development include Absurdities, Analogies, Convergent and Divergent Thinking, Illusions, Language and Symbolic Comprehension, Maps, and Auditory and Haptic Discrimination (Feuerstein. 1984).

Each instrument has a cover page and is implicitly divided into units.  Pages of exercises at the end of each unit can be used by the teacher to evaluate the student’s mastery of the tasks.  Each instrument also contains pages of mistakes in which the student learns to identify the source of errors. 

All of these instruments have been constructed along the Learning Potential Assessment Device (LPAD) model except for Illustration and Temporal Relations.  The exercises in those instruments are grated in difficulty and complexity with later learning based on mastery of the earlier task.

The order in which the instruments are taught depends on both the needs of the class and the characteristics of the instrument, although for some of the instruments there is a definite teaching sequence (Feuerstein. 1984). 

Teachers or other professionals, trained as mediators, guide learners through the multi-task IE curriculum. Their task is to use the Instrumental Enrichment program to sensitize the individual so that he will be able to register, elaborate, and become modified by direct exposure to live events and experiences in such a way that learning and the efficient handling and use of incoming stimuli are increasingly facilitated.  Thus, the goal is the development of modifiability as a stable characteristic of the individual.  As such, it is differences with direct methods of intervention, such as those employed by behavior movement approaches like the mastery learning methods of Bloom and Keller. 

There are currently under way more than 1,000 research projects on his work throughout the world involving all age groups from infancy to old age, in every setting from jungles to board rooms, and with every ability level from the profoundly retarded to the highly gifted. In 1990 the President of France decorated Dr. Feuerstein for his work in training French workers, managers, and executives in the skills of intelligence. (



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