Original Research: Social Responsibility and Education

Spatial orientation and cognitive load as factors influencing learning amongst blind learners in the Life Sciences

Mbulaheni O. Maguvhe, Msongelwa J. Gumede, William J. Fraser, Henoch Schoeman
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 31, No 1 | a384 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v31i1.384 | © 2012 Mbulaheni O. Maguvhe, Msongelwa J. Gumede, William J. Fraser, Henoch Schoeman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2012 | Published: 28 November 2012

About the author(s)

Mbulaheni O. Maguvhe, South African National Council for the Blind, Pretoria, South Africa
Msongelwa J. Gumede, Department of Higher Education, Pretoria, South Africa
William J. Fraser, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Henoch Schoeman, Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Tygervalley, South Africa

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Little research is done in South Africa on factors influencing cognitive load during teaching and learning. It challenges our social accountability towards learners with special education needs as the principles of equity and equality are not always achieved in this field of specialisation. This article reports on a secondary analysis conducted on the results of two recent investigations by Maguvhe (2005) and Gumede (2010) that focused on the teaching of Life Sciences to blind and visually impaired learners. The purpose of the secondary analysis was to determine from the original results how the principles of cognitive load, modality and spatial orientation are accounted for when Life Sciences is taught to blind and visually impaired learners. The secondary analysis confirmed that blind learners very seldom participate in investigations, experiments and activities, and when they do, such interactions remain basic, elementary and confirmatory. Because teaching occurs mainly by means of narratives, the possibilities remain high that cognitive load might decrease the auditory functions in the absence of other visual and tactile stimuli. Tactile stimulation depends heavily on factors such as specialised resources, well-trained teachers, Braille trainers, readers and writers, and a sound understanding of a holistic methodology that can optimise the tactile senses of blind and visually impaired learners.


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