These are concepts which are seen by Professor Feuerstein as universal preconditions for learning. He places them into three broad phases describing what he calls the mental act. These phases are termed Input, Elaboration and Output. For example, effective Input (assimilation of data) needs functions such as close focusing, restraint of impulsivity and precision. Elaboration (interpreting and understanding data) involves identifying relationships, defining the problem, planning, developing hypotheses, looking for evidence. Output requires for example, restraint of impulsivity and empathy in reaching and effectively communicating evidence-based conclusions.
The list of functions is carefully defined but is not seen as exhaustive, nor are the concepts necessarily original. They simply provide the conceptual framework which Feuerstein has found most practical in researching his programme and most effective in successfully developing people with learning difficulties.
When the functions are expressed in their deficient form, they are seen as weak and vulnerable in older children or not yet present in very young children. In either case, they are viewed as open to improvement. In this context, it is noteworthy that Professor Feuerstein's research and practical work over the years has led him to the view that deficiency in people with learning difficulties occurs most often at the 'input' and 'output' phases of the mental act. Their 'elaborative' capacity is about the same as the normal population!
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