The effects of cognitive effort on academic performance of learners with cochlear implants in a private mainstream school in Gauteng

Lior Blumenthal, Maximus M. Sefotho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This research investigated the phenomenon of learners with cochlear implants and their challenges with cognitive effort in private mainstream schools in Gauteng. Many learners with cochlear implants encounter academic and social challenges at school, despite the advanced technology. Objectives: This study aimed to explore how learners with cochlear implants experience cognitive effort and whether it impacts their academic potential. Methods: Research was conducted using a phenomenological design. Phenomenography was used as theoretical framework to perceive, interpret and understand experiences of the cochlear implant recipients. The six former learners who were recipients of cochlear implants were selected using purposive sampling. Semistructured interviews were utilised to gather information, which was analysed using thematic content analysis. Results: Five themes emerged from the analysis, namely auditory challenges, cognitive functioning, peer interactions, emotional health and concealed disability. This article only presents the first theme of cognitive functioning and highlights three subthemes related to cognitive effort. Findings show that many learners struggled with their concentration span and fatigue, as a result of their cognitive effort difficulties. Conclusion: This study demonstrated how learners with cochlear implants face challenges with cognitive effort at their mainstream schools. It indicates the need for awareness of and training on educating learners with cochlear implants to help them reach their academic potential. Contribution: This study contributes a unique focus on learners with cochlear implants in mainstream schools in South Africa. The study highlights that cognitive effort of learners with cochlear implants influenced their capabilities to multitask and retain information, despite the effort they have to put into listening. Further research should be conducted to develop interventions that could lesson cognitive effort while increasing learner productivity. The article responds to disability studies and inclusive education.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera886
JournalAfrican Journal of Disability
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Auditory challenges
  • Cochlear implants
  • Cognitive effort
  • Cognitive effort fatigue
  • Disability
  • Phenomenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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