Integration of Israeli Students of Ethiopian Origin in Israeli Universities

Rafi Feuerstein, David Tzuriel, Shlomit Cohen, Anat Cagan, Lea Yosef, Haim Devisheim, Lou Falik, Rosalind Goldenberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    The current criterion for acceptance to universities in Israel is based on psychometric testing that presents a strong barrier for acceptance of students of Ethiopian origin (SEO) to the universities. Based on the sociocultural theories of Vygotsky and Feuerstein, we suggest an intervention aimed at integrating SEO, considered to be “culturally different,” in universities. The intervention includes a novel screening process (based on dynamic assessment [DA] and an interview), academic oriented metacognitive course, and supportive counseling. A group of SEO (n = 665) with low psychometric scores, applied for assistance in admission to university, in seven cohorts (2010-2016). A group of 174 (26%) candidates were selected for the project and enrolled for studies in university; 49.4% enrolled in prestigious departments (e.g., medicine). The findings showed that despite the significant lower psychometric scores of the SEO as compared with the national average, only 4.6% have withdrawn at the end of first year as compared with 10.8% of the national Jewish sample and 12.4% among SEO population. A higher percentage of SEO in the current sample enrolled in high prestige departments than SEO in the population. No significant differences were found between dropped-out and continuing students in the psychometric test. Prediction of three-years' grade point average (GPA) by psychometric scores were not significant (R2 =.03, p >.05) as compared to the prediction in SEO population (R2 =.10, p <.001). The findings support Vygotsky's and Feuerstein's approach that standardized tests of students with deprived cultural backgrounds do not reflect their learning potential and that the use short-term intervention may be an effective mechanism of preparing students for academic success.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-34
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Cognitive Education and Psychology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © Copyright 2019 International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology.


    • cognitive modifiability
    • culturally biased testing
    • dynamic assessment
    • ethnic minorities
    • learning potential
    • psychometric test


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