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Short Learning Programme
Cognitive Education
The reason why we wish to present this SLP is, there is a need for cognitive education as evidenced in the strong cognitive focus in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) that guides teaching and learning in South Africa. The CAPS states that the curriculum aims to produce learners who can: • Identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking; • Work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team; • Organize and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively; • Collect, analyse, organize and critically evaluate information; • Communicate effectively using visual symbolic and/or language skills in various modes; • Use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of interrelated systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation. The above aims suggest that learners need to develop a range of cognitive skills, strategies and dispositions for which purposeful classroom instruction is required – thus requiring that the teacher becomes an agent for cognitive change. The policy is not clear on the strategies/approaches teachers should use to achieve the aims of the CAPS. The teacher needs to become involved by being productive, and giving personal meaning to the teaching and learning process in the classroom related to the development of learners’ cognitive capacity. This SLP will assist teachers in living up to this challenge.

Purpose of the course:

The aim of the SLP in Cognitive Education is to equip in-service teachers with practical tools and strategies suitable for the South African teaching and learning context to transform classroom practices to unlock the cognitive potential among learners purposively. This means teachers should purposively and explicitly mediate the thinking skills and dispositions that are required for achieving the objectives of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) that will ensure effective learning at all levels across the curriculum. The purpose of the course can be operationalized as follows: To assist in-service teachers in: Understanding the importance of cognitive education to achieve the objectives of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement of South Africa that could enable learners to cope better and smarter with academic and real life challenges in and outside the classroom. Planning developmentally appropriate teaching, learning and assessment activities to advance cognitive development among learners across the curriculum. Understanding, applying and infusing a range of teaching strategies to facilitate cognitive development among all learners across the curriculum into ongoing teaching, learning and assessment activities. Evaluating the effectiveness of a teaching strategy/strategies to facilitate cognitive development during teaching, learning and assessment among learners. Identifying and eliminating factors that can hamper the successful implementation of a cognitive approach to teaching, learning and assessment.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
An approved teaching qualification
Learning assumed to be in place: 
Basic knowledge as acquired during teacher training of: • Learning theories that underpin teaching and learning • Basic teaching strategies • Approaches to assessment

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit


Assessment Criteria

  After completion of this course, participants will: Participant will be assessed on the following criteria:

Study unit 1: Conceptualising cognitive education/the explicit teaching of thinking

Define and explain what is meant with cognitive education/the explicit  teaching of thinking by clarifying the differences between teaching for, of and about thinking Demonstrate detailed knowledge regarding the key concepts of cognitive education, namely teaching for, of and about thinking, and the executive functions that are involved in cognitive development.

Study unit 2: The importance of cognitive education

Outline and provide examples for the importance of explicit and purposeful cognitive education for academic learning and for preparing learners to cope with life after school and with the challenges of the new millennium.

Investigate and motivate the importance of cognitive education for implementing the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

Illustrate and justify by using a variety of examples to explain why cognitive education is important for learning, with specific reference to the input, elaboration and output phases of the learning process.

Study unit 3: Cognitive development processes

Identify and classify the processes and characteristics of cognitive development: from toddlers to adolescents to adults.


Recognise how the characteristics of cognitive development influence instructional design in the classroom.

Understand and characterize the different stages involved in cognitive development (from toddlers, to adolescents to adults).

Study unit 4: A Mediated Learning Approach to advance cognitive education

Understand and apply the theoretical principles of mediated learning during teaching to advance cognitive development.


Compare the application of a mediated learning approach with traditional transmission and reception teaching.

Understand how the principles of mediated learning contribute to explicit cognitive development.

Understand how the theoretical perspectives that underpin transmission and reception teaching- learning do not explicitly support cognitive development

Study unit 5: The Thinking School and the Thinking Classroom

Determine ways to create a “Thinking School” and distinguish factors that can hamper the journey in becoming a “Thinking School”.

Manage the implementation of a thinking approach across classrooms in schools and colleges.


Clarify the role of the teacher in establishing a “Thinking Classroom”


Identify and eliminate factors that can hamper effective thinking and learning in the classroom and at home

Clarify what makes a “Thinking School” different from any other ordinary school.

Identify the processes that will assist a school management team to implement a whole school approach to teaching thinking in a school effectively.

Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the role of the teacher in establishing a thinking classroom.

Demonstrate detailed knowledge of factors that can hamper effective thinking and learning in the classroom and at home

Study unit 6: Strategies/activities to teach thinking

Understand, apply and infuse a variety of teaching strategies into ongoing teaching and learning activities to enable learners to acquire learning content at the different cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

(Examples of strategies/activities: De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, The Q-Matrix, Thinking Maps, Cooperative learning and Habits of Mind)

Evaluate the effectiveness of a specific teaching strategy/activity to advance the development of cognitive and metacognitive skills and strategies as well as dispositions for effective thinking as indicated in the aims of the CAPS.

Demonstrate detailed knowledge of a variety of teaching strategies and activities to advance thinking according to the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy during teaching and learning in the classroom.

Study unit 7: Cognitive principles and assessment

Understand the principles of Bloom’s taxonomy for designing learner assessment tasks.


Design an assessment task that allows learners the opportunity to become cognitively engaged in the execution of the task.

Demonstrate detailed knowledge of adhering to the principles of Bloom’s taxonomy in the design of assessment tasks/activities/tests


Teachers must complete all the assignments that form part of the course, and obtain a minimum of 50% to pass the assignment. An overall average of 50% must be obtained for all the assignments to qualify for a certificate in cognitive education. A variety of assessment tasks will be provided, namely formal individual assessment tasks, and informal assessment tasks that require working in pairs and in groups
Method of assessment: 
Assessment task: Study unit 1 Individual task: Your school principal requests you to make a presentation to a group of staff members that need to be convinced to balance their transmission-reception approach to teaching with a cognitive approach to teaching. Your presentation has to provide a clear and detailed explication of what cognitive education implies, and suggest ways to the teachers how they could enhance cognitive education in their classrooms. Assessment task: Study unit 2 Individual work and work in pairs in class: By using your CAPS document, analyse each of the objectives listed in the document that learners have to achieve and establish which dimension of thinking (for, of, about) is addressed by each of the objectives. Share your anwers with a peer/colleague and extend/adapt your analysis. Submit your work at the end of the lecture. Individual work and work in pairs in class: Completion of circle maps after watching a video (individually and in pairs): “Did you know” : (i) Identify the challenges learners will be faced with in the new millenium/21st century that call for a cognitive approach to teaching. (ii) Evaluate to what extent your own practice equips learners to deal with the challenges/problems highlighted in the video. (iii) Suggest ways to enhance the ways in which you presently teach for, of and about thinking. Exchange your anwers with a peer/colleague and adapt or extend your answers on the circle maps. Assessment task: Study unit 3 Individual task: Design a learning activity for the learners whom you presently teach, and provide a justification for why you regard the activity as a suitable cognitive challenge for this specific group of learners. In designing your task, you should take cognizance of the learners’ cognitive developmental level, and also include a challenge for learners who have exceeded their cognitive developmental level. Assessment task: Study unit 4 Cooperative group work (Jigsaw) in class. Groups present their findings in class. Participants are assessed for their group effort. Read the two case studies (to be attached to the final document) that elaborate on the approaches utilized Mrs Adams and Mr Dube during teaching, and investigate the differences between the two teachers by examining the following: (i) The role of the teacher during teaching; (ii) the role of the learner during teaching; (iii) the type of learning activities provided during teaching; (iv) the teaching methods and strategies used by the teachers; (v) the nature of assessment. Evaluate and motivate the effectiveness of each of the teaching approaches for developing learners’ cognitive capacity. Individual work: Desing a lesson that you will teach to your leaners and demonstrate how you will balance transmission and reception teaching with a mediated learning approach to teaching. Explain clearly how and when you will use transmission and reception teaching. Apply the following universal criteria of mediated learning in your lesson: intentionality and reciprocity, meaning and transcendence. Include TWO the following situational phase specific criteria in your lesson: o Mediation of regulation and control of behavior. o Mediation of feelings of competence. o Mediation of sharing behaviour. o Mediation of individuation and psychological differentiation. o Mediation of challenge, novelty and complexity. Finally, include any ONE of the integrative orienting belief system criteria in your lesson. o Mediation of awareness of the human being as a changing entity. o Mediation of the search for optimistic alternatives. o Mediation of a feeling of belonging. Assessment task: Study unit 5 Individual and pair activity in the classroom: Watch the two video clippings and critically examine whether the classrooms mirror “thinking classrooms” and if the teachers are good models of “thinking teachers”. You need to evaluate whether the activities, teaching methods, classroom atmosphere and ways of communication in the classroom promote thinking. Jot down the examples that you regard as suitable evidence of “thinking” being advanced. Exchange and discuss your views with your peer/colleague and adapt or extend your information. Submit your work at the end of the lecture. Feedback provided in class. Individual reflection activity: Visualise your own daily classroom practice and write a short appreciation (1 A4 page) of how your classroom practice advances or obstructs thinking. In case of the latter, suggest ways in which you can improve your classroom practice to advance thinking. Assessment task: Study unit 6 Individual performance-based task Select any TWO teaching strategies and plan and present a lesson that will unfold learning content at all the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Submit a DVD of your presentation. Write a short reflections (½ A4 page) in which you synthesize the value of each of the chosen strategies in relation to teaching for, of and about thinking. Assessment task: Study unit 7 Individual performance-based task: Design an assessment task/activity/test linked to a topic that you will teach to a group of learners. The assessment task/activity/test should provide evidence of that you provided a cognitive challenge to the learners (inclusive of all the levels in Bloom’s taxonomy). Submit a copy of your assessment activity and a memorandum/rubric that will guide your marking of the activity.

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Target group: 
All teachers in possession of an approved teaching qualification may enroll for the SLP
Contact us
Dr Esmarie Strydom
Telephone number: 
016 910 3084