Cognition and teaching in subject specific areas
Pupils experience various problems when trying to solve problems in Biology, particularly on Higher Grade. This problem was profound in the area of Homeostasis, an aspect of Human Physiology. During this investigation a number of pupils, the PIONEER GROUP, were screened for cognitive deficiencies. Major common deficiencies were identified as IMPULSIVITY, THE USE TWO OR MORE SOURCES OF INFORMATION SIMULTANEOUSLY, SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL ORIENTATION. A second phase, the essence of this investigation, sought ways in which to teach pupils the cognitive skills to facilitate their concept formation in the area of Homeostasis. Since the subjects displaying these cognitive deficiencies were already in their final year of High School a method was sought which would benefit them in the short term. Simultaneously a way had to be found to teach these skills so that it could be of use to pupils on a long term basis. This study revealed that for short term benefit the cognitive skills have to be subtly introduced and integrated with the subject content. Teaching cognitive skills in concentrated form over such a short period had a detrimental effect on the group subjected to this treatment. However, the PIONEER GROUP, had been taught these skills in a very short period in concentrated form. Feedback from them reveals that they were not able to apply the skills in their Senior Certificate Examination but all of them are now adept at using these skills to their benefit. This leads to the conclusion that if these skills are to be taught separately it should be started as early as possible in the school career. In the last year of High School it is more of a burden to the pupil than a benefit. In such a case it should be done integrated with subject content.