Research Letters

Competence of Science Foundation students in basic intellectual skills

Mailoo Selvaratnam, Nkosana Mavuso
South African Journal of Science | Vol 106, No 1/2 | a11 | DOI: | © 2010 Mailoo Selvaratnam, Nkosana Mavuso | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 January 2010 | Published: 18 March 2010

About the author(s)

Mailoo Selvaratnam, Science Foundation, South Africa
Nkosana Mavuso, Science Foundation, South Africa


The competence of Science Foundation students at the Mafikeng Campus of North-West University in some basic intellectual skills was studied, over a period of three years, utilising carefully designed questions. The skills tested included language, mathematical, graphical, three-dimensional visualisation, information processing and reasoning skills. The results showed that their competence in the basic intellectual skills needed to study science effectively was far below standard. This lack of competence could be expected to be detrimental to self-confidence and may also be an important reason for the high failure rate of students in their science courses. We concluded with the suggestion that much greater emphasis should be placed on the systematic and sustained training of students in intellectual skills and strategies of various types and that such training should be integrated, throughout the courses, with the teaching of subject content.


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