Think Bright is an early intervention program using mediated learning to enhance the cognitive functioning of children with developmental delay. Keung and colleagues conducted a randomized control trial to investigate the effect of the program on Hong Kong preschoolers with developmental delay. The intervention included training activities that focused on three aspects of thinking skills: analogical thinking, sequential thinking, and logical reasoning. In contrast to teacher-centred direct teaching, mediated learning is a recurring four-step process of “Explore-Try-Mediate-Conclude”. In the process, teachers used mediation skills to facilitate and guide the child to perform the learning task by encouraging the child to think aloud and verbalize his/her approaches and findings. Hence, the researchers hypothesized that mediated learning not only improves thinking skills but also language skills.
A total of 68 preschoolers (48 boys, 20 girls, mean age = 58 months) with cognitive and/or language delay was recruited from 15 rehabilitation service centres in Hong Kong. Participants were randomly allocated to the intervention group (n=34) and the active control group (n=34). The experimental group received twelve 60 min sessions of one-on-one cognitive training (Think Bright) over 6 months, while the control group received 12 individual sessions of regular training during this period. Prior to the intervention, teachers received 6 hours of training on how to administer the Think Bright program. Three aspects of the outcomes were assessed: 1) language ability (e.g., receptive and expressive vocabulary, grammar); 2) general cognition (e.g., basic concepts of colour, shape, quantity, the cognitive abilities of matching, categorization); and 3) thinking skills.
- The results of MANCOVA indicated that the Think Bright group signiﬁcantly outperformed the control group in all six outcomes: general cognition (ES=+0.82), language (ES = +0.81), logical reasoning (ES=+0.79), non-verbal analogical thinking (ES = +0.48), verbal analogical thinking (ES= +0.41), and sequential thinking (ES = +0.41).
- Correlation analysis showed that the more mediated skills employed in the teaching, the greater the gain score in language.
Due to the small sample size, the generalizability of the findings of this study remains uncertain. Moreover, the outcome assessments were conducted by educational psychologists who were not blinded to the experiment conditions. Thus, the results have to be interpreted with caution. In spite of the limitations, the study showed a promising result for the effectiveness of using mediated learning to enhance both the cognitive and language skills of preschoolers with developmental delay. The authors suggested that this training could also be adopted to improve the thinking skills of typically developing children.
Source (Open Access): Keung, A. Y., Ho, V. F., & Shum, K. K. (2022). Early cognitive intervention using mediated learning for preschoolers with developmental delay: A randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(3), 1109–1132. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12490