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Intervention for peer mediation and mother-child ... Intervention for peer mediation and mother-child interaction: The effects on children’s mediated learning strategies and cognitive

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  • Contemporary Educational Psychology 49 (2017) 302–323

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    Contemporary Educational Psychology

    journal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate /cedpsych

    Intervention for peer mediation and mother-child interaction: The effects on children’s mediated learning strategies and cognitive modifiability 0361-476X/� 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    ⇑ Corresponding author at: School of Education, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan 5290002, Israel.

    E-mail address: David.Tzuriel[email protected] (D. Tzuriel).

    David Tzuriel a,⇑, Rinat Caspi b aBar Ilan University, Israel bGivat Washington Academic College of Education, Israel

    a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

    Article history: Available online 16 March 2017

    Keywords: Mediated learning strategies Peer-mediation Cognitive modifiability Dynamic assessment Planning Self-regulation

    The effects of intervention for peer mediation and mother-child mediated learning experience (MLE) strategies on children’s MLE strategies and cognitive modifiability (CM) was investigated on a sample of 100 mother–child dyads. CM was examined in domains of executive functions and analogical reasoning. The MLE interactions were analyzed by Observation for Mediated Interaction (OMI) scale. Children of high- and low-mediating mothers were assigned to experimental (n = 49) and control (n = 51) conditions. The experimental group received a peer-mediation program and the control groups received an alternative creativity program. The children (in Grade 3) were assigned as mediators of learners (in Grade 1) and taught them analogical reasoning problems. The peer interaction was videotaped and analyzed by the OMI. All children were given dynamic assessment after the interaction. Children in the experimental group showed higher MLE strategies and CM than did children in the control condition. Mediators of low-MLE mothers in the experimental group showed greater CM than did mediators in the control group. Structural equation modeling analysis showed that mediators’ cognitive modifiability was explained by proximal factors of treatment, mothers’ quality of mediation (QM) and mediators’ QM; learners’ cognitive modifiability was explained by mediators’ QM. The findings were discussed in relation to the MLE theory and earlier findings.

    � 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    1. Introduction

    An important question asked frequently by researchers and clinician is whether participation in a cognitive education program aimed at developing mediated learning experience strategies (MLE, Feuerstein, Feuerstein, Falik, & Rand, 2002) compensates for low quality of mother-child interaction as regard the effects on devel- opment of children’s MLE strategies, and cognitive modifiability (CM) in domains of executive functions and cognitive skills. In the current study we try to deal with this question by applying a relatively novel cognitive education program: The Peer Mediation with Young Children (PMYC, e.g., Shamir & Tzuriel, 2004; Tzuriel & Shamir, 2010). The main outcome variables were children’s MLE strategies, as observed in peer interactions and their cognitive modifiability. Cognitive modifiability is defined as the individual’s propensity to learn from new experiences and learning opportuni-

    ties and to change one’s own cognitive structures (Feuerstein et al., 2002; Tzuriel, 2001, 2013). Our research is guided mainly by Feuer- stein’s theory of MLE (Feuerstein et al., 2002; Tzuriel, 1999, 2001, 2013) and Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of mental development (e.g., Rogoff, 1990, 1994, 1999; Tudge, 1996; Valsiner, 1988; Vygotsky, 1962, 1978, 1981; Wertsch, 1985). In the following sec- tions we introduce briefly (a) Feuerstein’s MLE theory, (b) the Peer Mediation with Young Children (PMYC) Program and specifically on its effects on children’s MLE strategies and CM, and (c) the effects of parent-child MLE interaction on children’s CM.

    1.1. Feuerstein’s mediated learning experience (MLE) theory

    According to the MLE theory parents are conceived of as active- modifying agents in directing and shaping their children’s develop- ment. MLE interactions are defined as a process in which parents or substitute adults interpose themselves between a set of stimuli and the human organism and modify the stimuli for developing children. In mediating the world of stimuli, parents may use differ- ent strategies such as focusing, alerting attention, changing the mailto:[email protected]

  • D. Tzuriel, R. Caspi / Contemporary Educational Psychology 49 (2017) 302–323 303

    stimulus frequency, order, and intensity, relating new information to familiar contexts, and regulating the order and timing of new information. Good mediators relate also to children’s motivational aspects by arousing their attention, curiosity, and vigilance, focus- ing on relevant aspects of the situation, and providing meaning to neutral stimuli. From a cognitive perspective, adequate mediation facilitates development of cognitive functions required for tempo- ral, spatial, and cause-effect relations. Children gradually internal- ize the MLE processes, which become integrated mechanisms of change in the future. As children develop internalized self- mediation strategies, their parents gradually withdraw from the situation and allow the children more autonomy in implementing the acquired mediated strategies. Adequate MLE interactions facil- itate the development of various cognitive functions, learning sets, mental operations, strategies, reflective thinking, and need sys- tems. The acquired and internalized MLE processes allow develop- ing children later to use them independently, to benefit from novel learning experiences in varied contexts, and to modify their own cognitive systems. Mediational processes are complex, circular, and depend not only on parental characteristics but also on chil- dren’s cognitive strengths and deficits, motivational orientation, emotional needs, behavioral tendencies, stimulus characteristics, and situational conditions (Tzuriel, 2013).

    Lack of or inadequate MLE may be derived from two broad cat- egories: (a) lack of environmental opportunities for mediation, and (b) inability of the children to benefit from mediational interac- tions that are potentially available. In the first case, lack of or inad- equate mediation derives from parents’ low educational level, traumatic life events, lack of parents’ awareness of the importance of mediation, and lack of knowledge and/or sophistication in applying MLE strategies. In the second case, children might suffer from physical and/or mental disabilities that act as barriers to reg- ister mediation that may be offered to them. Feuerstein et al. (2002) suggested 12 strategies of MLE, but only the first five have been operationalized in studies of infants and young children (Klein, 1988; Klein, Weider, & Greenspan, 1987; Lidz, 1991; Tzuriel, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2013; Tzuriel & Eran, 1990; Tzuriel & Ernst, 1990; Tzuriel & Weiss, 1998) and in studies on peer media- tion (Shamir & Tzuriel, 2004; Tzuriel & Shamir, 2007, 2010) and siblings (Klein, Zarur, & Feldman, 2003; Tzuriel & Hanuka-Levy, 2014).

    According to Feuerstein and colleagues, an adult-child interac- tion can be defined as mediated interaction if it contains three basic ‘‘ingredients”: Intentionality and reciprocity, meaning, and transcendence. These criteria are considered to be necessary for an interaction to be classified as MLE. Other criteria can contribute to cognitive development but are not regarded as necessary and/or sufficient in a mediated interaction.

    (a) Intentionality and Reciprocity is an interaction characterized by efforts to create in the child a state of vigilance, and to facilitate an efficient registration of the information (input phase), an adequate processing (elaboration phase), and accurate responding (output phase). The reciprocity compo- nent is of crucial importance to the quality and continuation of the mediation process; when mediated children respond to mediators’ behavior, it enables mediators to adjust their mediation and continue the process efficiently. A parent can draw a child’s attention to a specific aspect of a drawing, highlighting its specific features, and sensitively waiting and even encouraging the child’s response.

    (b) Mediation of Meaning refers to interactions in which the mediator tries, when presenting an object, to emphasize its significance and worth. This is done by expressing affect and interest and by pointing to its importance and value. The significance of a stimulus can be conveyed nonverbally

    (e.g., facial expression, tone of voice, rituals, repetitious actions) or verbally (e.g., illuminating a current event, activ- ity, or learned context, relating it to past or current events, and explaining its value). Mediation for meaning may be expressed by enthusiasm in the presence of an event and/ or explaining the personal significance and unique impor- tance of a stimulus that to the child might look neutral.

    (c) Mediation for Transcendence (expanding) is characterized by going beyond the concrete context or the immediate needs of the child. The mediator usually tries to reach for general principles and/or goals that are not bound to the ‘‘here and now” or the specific and concrete as

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