Attention: This site looks better in the latest Mozilla or Internet Explorer.

The Learning Conference 2003

Home | Newsletter | Call for Papers | Register

Presentation Details


Developing competency in comprehending scientific text

Dr Wesso.

While reading to learn from science text is essential in developing scientific competency, failure to comprehend science text remains a profound barrier to access science, and a neglected area of research.

From a cognitive perspective, students’ observable performance can be attributed to their underlying knowledge, behavior and thought processes. The hypothesis of this study was that an explication of the cognitive requirements demanded by science text could serve as a basis for systematically designing instruction whereby optimal intellectual performance may be attained.

Principles for effective instruction were derived from models of cognitive apprenticeship, the theory of Mediated learning and recommendations for reading in content areas. The intervention was applied firstly, to facilitate the construction of appropriate schemata for science text. Secondly, guided reading for comprehension efficiency through the cultivation of requisite cognitive processes was provided by heuristics developed for physiology content from text.

The study showed that the notion of explicitly teaching cognitive processes, described by deconstructing reading tasks, is possible. By translating the cognitive processes into cognitive reading strategies, within a heuristic presentation, students acquired problem-solving abilities to access physiology text.


Dr Wesso  (South Africa)
Senior lecturer
Department of Medical Biosciences
/university of the Western Cape

Iona Wesso is a senior lecturer in the Department of Medical Biosciences at UWC. Her research interest is the facilitation of access to science by improving the cognitive mismatch between students’ cognitive repertoire and the cognitive demands of scientific thinking and problem solving in subject-specific areas.

  • science text, text-structure, cognition-based instruction

(30 min Conference Paper, English)