Reuven Feuerstein and the Instrumental Enrichment Programme

The Reuven Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment programme proposes certain amendments in the field of education. Find out more here.
Reuven Feuerstein and the Instrumental Enrichment Programme
Cristian Muñoz Escobar

Written and verified by the psychologist Cristian Muñoz Escobar.

Last update: 10 April, 2023

There’s a wide range of theories and applications for creating efficient educational systems, focused on ‘being’. Moreover, there’s satisfactory evidence that they’re currently improving education in most countries. In this article, we’re going to talk about Reuven Feuerstein and his Instrumental Enrichment (IE) programme.

Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014) was a Jewish educator and psychologist. He oriented his research in the field of cognitive psychological development. He also founded the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem, Israel. In fact, for more than 50 years, his theoretical system has been a mainstay in clinics and education worldwide.

In his youth, Feuerstein taught concentration camp children to read. He also created the Instrumental Enrichment (IE) programme and was director of the Hadassah-Wizo Canada Research Institute.

The basis of the Instrumental Enrichment programme

Feuerstein began his proposal based on the fact that the evolution of cognitive processes is modifiable, even cognition itself. Through the exercises contained in the IE programme, he demonstrated that cognitive abilities can be determined by certain stimuli.

Thanks to the application of the instruments he designed, he presented the ‘test-training-test’ concept. This is the idea that, as the individual performs the exercises, they exercise their cognitive capacity. They can also be evaluated at the same time. This programme affirms that low academic performance is the immediate and unavoidable consequence of a deficiency in the application of conventional educational instruments, designed, supposedly, to stimulate cognitive functions.

The pedagogical system of IE determines and stimulates the cognitive abilities of students. However, it doesn’t include psychometric tests because Feuerstein considered that they only determined and created diagnoses that pigeonholed students with disadvantageous measurements. In effect, he believed they marginalized them if they failed to fall within their evaluative parameters.

The influences of Reuven Feuerstein

The following theories influenced Reuven Feuerstein in the development of his Instrumental Enrichment programme:

  • Lev Vygotsky. The relevance of the student’s sociocultural environment.
  • Jean Piaget. The study of the structure of the stages of cognitive development.
  • Sternberg. The student has the ability to adapt and self-govern.
  • Allman. The student has the quality of cognitive plasticity and the value of mediated learning.

As you can see, Feuerstein’s model is focused on cognitive psychology. That said, it has its own specific characteristics in its theoretical foundations. The concept of cognitive modifiability allows us to glimpse intelligence as the process and dynamic development in which the individual is affected and responds to external stimuli. In fact, Feuerstein proposed this in his own cognitive stimulation exercises.

In short, the IE maintains that cognitive development is the result of the student’s direct exposure to the stimulus, mediated by the learning experience.

Teacher with face mask presents the math class to high school students
According to Feuerstein’s theory, psychometric tests do nothing more than pigeonhole students and marginalize them when they don’t fall within their parameters.

How the EI is formed

The EI proposes that each student can learn at their own pace and according to their specific needs or deficiencies. It consists of more than 500 pages and contains problems and activities. For instance, non-verbal instruments, the use of vocabulary, reading, comprehension, and exercises. These stimulate the proper functioning of the student’s cognitive components, according to the complexity of the different levels.

Feuerstein claimed that a student with learning problems can develop skills if the exercises intended to stimulate cognitive plasticity are adequate. Each of his instruments presents different numerical, figurative, verbal, and symbolic modalities.

EI work tools

The learning curve of the EI work instruments is significant. It’s organized in several parts or instruments.

  • Organization of points
  • Spatial orientation I.
  • Comparisons.
  • Rankings.
  • Analytical perception.
  • Spatial Orientation II.
  • Illustrations.
  • Numeric progressions.
  • Family relationships.
  • Instructions.
  • Temporary relationships.
  • Transitive Relations.
  • Syllogisms.
  • Pattern design.

In addition, the cognitive qualities that the EI stimulates are as follows:

  • Perception.
  • Spatial Orientation.
  • Logical reasoning.
  • Data verification.
  • Comparative conduct.
  • Hypothetical thinking.
  • Accurate data collection.
  • Planning behavior.
  • Evaluating and contrasting various sources of information simultaneously.
Children's Educational Instrumental Enrichment Program
Teachers actively participate in EI, so they must commit themselves to it.

EI in the classroom

EI, as a paradigm of psychology applied to pedagogy, has a place in the classroom. In fact, the implementation of its instruments represents a unique experience, given its effectiveness in the learning potential of students. Moreover, it’s an excellent intervention tool for rectifying educational programs that aren’t up to the learning processes.

Its implementation is positive because results can be obtained and basic cognitive functions can be improved, such as those listed below:

  • Analysis.
  • Seriation.
  • Location.
  • Classification.
  • Observation.
  • ID.
  • Interpretation.

Finally, teachers actively participate in IE. It proposes a change in their attitudes toward the educational process, in addition to requiring them to commit themselves to support their students. In effect, they can modify the structure of their thinking, according to their behavior toward learning and personalized teaching.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.