Why Use FIE?


Why Use Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment (FIE)?

By Dr. Joyce Swofford

Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment is a methodology for cognitive intervention.  In that sense, it is a therapeutic tool for someone recovering from any variety of cognitive or mental health issues because it can be used as a way to “retrain or refine the brain.”  FIE has a factual/knowledge premise (the cognitive functions), a theoretical/philosophical basis (Structural Cognitive Modifiability), and a pedagogical/belief system foundation (Mediated Learning Experiences).    

 The following questions could be answered with the information provided below:

             Why use FIE in combination with Educational Therapy?

Why use FIE as a supplement to the regular K-12 curriculum?

Why use FIE with older adults as a continuing education/lifelong learning activity?

Why use FIE in combination with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

 In essence, FIE helps an individual more effectively process information.  The various instruments require the individual to use particular cognitive functions, which helps the learner develop thinking techniques that enhance information processing skills.  (Those instruments italicized in parentheses below tend to emphasize the mental operations identified.)  Specifically, FIE helps in three ways:

 1. Strengthens memory.

 ü      The tasks cause the learner to develop strategies for organizing information for later recall. 

 ü      The tasks require the learner to recognize and/or construct relationships among ideas and concepts and to develop strategies for later recall.  

     ü      Memory is based on recalling a part of the relationship, and then the connections that “go with it” will be recalled also, as with a magnet attracting a string of paper clips.

     ü      The emphasis is on recognizing and creating relationships, which is when the brain makes neuron connections.  This is the modifiability of the structure of the brain:  the brain changes as new neurons are formed and neuron branches connect in different ways.

2. Builds executive functions.

  ü      The tasks require the learner to develop strategies for solving problems. 

ü      The tasks cause the learner to make more thoughtful and more logical decisions.

ü      Logical reasoning skills are enhanced as the learner begins to see new relationships and draws conclusions.

3. Enhances “learning-to-learn” skills.

  ü      The tasks develop knowledge acquisition skills.

 ü      The tasks promote study skills as the learner becomes more aware of his/own metacognition and thinking capacities.

 ü      The tasks require the learner to use the cognitive functions that compose the mental processes that are used in the elaborative rehearsal stage of information processing theories, when manipulation of the information is completed.

  ü      The tasks help strengthen the learner’s ability to focus on a goal and on the process of gathering information by improving the self-mediation that is needed for future independent learning.

  ü      The discussions enhance the learner’s skills in social interactions needed for future collaborative learning.

The cognitive functions are the means by which we make/create/recognize the relationships inherent within the task.  The cognitive functions are the building blocks of the mental operations required in memory, executive thinking, and learning.

During the intentional mediation, the mediator transcends the immediate task to help the learner see new relationships in different settings, thus giving the learner more hooks to use when recalling the memory.  Such transcendence through self-mediation is an ultimate goal of MLE because then the individual becomes a truly independent learner.