Effects of adult modeling and adult direction on impulsive behavior of learning-disabled adolescents
This study compared the Feuerstein adult direction and the Meichenbaum adult modeling approaches using two Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment tasks with adolescent students classified as emotionally-handicapped/learning-disabled in a residential treatment center to determine the effect on impulsivity, higher-level thinking and task transfer.
Twenty-nine students who demonstrated impulsive behavior as measured by Kagan's Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT) were randomly assigned to the Feuerstein or Meichenbaum Programs. Higher-level thinking skills were assessed by Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM).
The investigator implemented 20 lesson plans which detailed the two treatments according to the elements of the Feuerstein and Meichenbaum Approaches respectively. The researcher presented bi-weekly 50-minute lessons in small groups for a 10-week period for both programs. Experienced educators knowledgeable in each approach reviewed and approved the lesson plans; they also verified the absence of investigator bias by evaluating the first six audio-taped lessons of each program.
The data obtained from the pre and post measures were analyzed using: (a) t-test analyses to compare the Feuerstein and Meichenbaum Groups on variables measured before the intervention, and (b) a repeated measures design to account for differences between groups. A correlation was also conducted to describe the observed strength of the association between the transfer task and the Raven's pre and posttests measures.
Although no significant differences resulted in the pre-post gain scores between the two programs on impulsivity as measured by Kagan's MFFT, on higher-level thinking skills as measured by Raven's SPM, and on the mean scores of the transfer tasks, the subjects made significant gains in reflective behavior, higher-level thinking skills, and task transfer, regardless of their assigned group. The study concluded that impulsivity, higher-level thinking skills and task transfer capability, are modifiable through adult direction or modeling programs which train students to develop reflective behavior.
It is recommended that intervention programs for the training of reflective behavior and the development of cognitive skills should be designed in a way that will allow for a more precise exploration of the independent contribution of each variable (impulsivity and cognitive training) to gains in cognitive performance.