Cognitive apprenticeship

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Cognitive apprenticeship is a theory of the process where a master of a skill teaches that skill to an apprentice.

Constructivist approaches to human learning have led to the development of a theory of cognitive apprenticeship.[1][2] This theory holds that masters of a skill often fail to take into account the implicit processes involved in carrying out complex skills when they are teaching novices. To combat these tendencies, cognitive apprenticeships “…are designed, among other things, to bring these tacit processes into the open, where students can observe, enact, and practice them with help from the teacher…”.[1] This model is supported by Albert Bandura's (1997) theory of modeling, which posits that in order for modeling to be successful, the learner must be attentive, must have access to and retain the information presented, must be motivated to learn, and must be able to accurately reproduce the desired skill.

Overview[edit]

Part of the effectiveness of the cognitive apprenticeship model comes from learning in context and is based on theories of situated cognition. Cognitive scientists maintain that the context in which learning takes place is critical (e.g., Godden & Baddeley, 1975). Based on findings such as these, Collins, Duguid, and Brown (1989) argue that cognitive apprenticeships are less effective when skills and concepts are taught independent of their real-world context and situation. As they state, “Situations might be said to co-produce knowledge through activity. Learning and cognition, it is now possible to argue, are fundamentally situated”.[2] In cognitive apprenticeships, the activity being taught is modeled in real-world situations.

By using processes such as modelling and coaching, cognitive apprenticeships also support the three stages of skill acquisition described in the expertise literature: the cognitive stage, the associative stage, and the autonomous stage.[3][4] In the cognitive stage, learners develop declarative understanding of the skill. In the associative stage, mistakes and misinterpretations learned in the cognitive stage are detected and eliminated while associations between the critical elements involved in the skill are strengthened. Finally, in the autonomous stage, the learner’s skill becomes honed and perfected until it is executed at an expert level.[5]

Like traditional apprenticeships, in which the apprentice learns a trade such as tailoring or woodworking by working under a master teacher, cognitive apprenticeships allow the master to model behaviors in a real-world context with cognitive modeling.[6] By listening to the master explain exactly what she is doing and thinking as she models the skill, the apprentice can identify relevant behaviors and develop a conceptual model of the processes involved. The apprentice then attempts to imitate those behaviors with the master observing and providing coaching. Coaching provides assistance at the most critical level – the skill level just beyond what the learner/apprentice could accomplish by herself. Vygotsky (1978) referred to this as the Zone of Proximal Development and believed that fostering development within this zone leads to the most rapid development. The coaching process includes additional modeling as necessary, corrective feedback, and reminders, all intended to bring the apprentice’s performance closer to that of the master’s. As the apprentice becomes more skilled through the repetition of this process, the feedback and instruction provided by the master “fades” until the apprentice is, ideally, performing the skill at a close approximation of the master level.[7]

[This entry is an excerpt from R. Shawn Edmondson's doctoral dissertation, entitled Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Telepresence-Enabled Cognitive Apprenticeship Model of Teacher Professional Development (2006).]

Teaching methods[edit]

Collins, Brown, and Newman developed six teaching methods rooted in cognitive apprenticeship theory and claim these methods help students attain cognitive and metacognitive strategies for "using, managing, and discovering knowledge".[2] The first three (modeling, coaching, scaffolding) are at the core of cognitive apprenticeship and help with cognitive and metacognitive development. The next two (articulation and reflection) are designed to help novices with awareness of problem-solving strategies and execution similar to that of an expert. The final step (exploration) intends to guide the novice towards independence and the ability to solve and identify problems within the domain on their own. The authors note, however, that this is not an exhaustive list of methods and that the successful execution of these methods is highly dependent on the domain.[1]

Modelling[edit]

Modelling is when an expert, usually a teacher, within the cognitive domain or subject area demonstrates a task explicitly so that novices, usually a student, can experience and build a conceptual model of the task at hand. For example, a math teacher might write out explicit steps and work through a problem aloud, demonstrating her heuristics and procedural knowledge. Modeling can include modeling of expert performance or processes in the world.

Coaching[edit]

Coaching involves observing novice task performance and offering feedback and hints to sculpt the novice's performance to that of an expert's. The expert oversees the novice's tasks and may structure the task accordingly to assist in the novice's development.

Scaffolding[edit]

Instructional scaffolding is the act of putting into place strategies and methods to support the student's learning. These supports can be teaching manipulatives, activities, and group work. The teacher may have to execute parts of the task that the student is not yet able to do. This requires the teacher to have the skill to analyze and assess student abilities in the moment.

Articulation[edit]

Articulation includes "any method of getting students to articulate their knowledge, reasoning, or problem-solving process in a domain" (p. 482).[1] Three types of articulation are inquiry teaching, thinking aloud, and critical student role. Through inquiry teaching (Collins & Stevens, 1982), teachers ask students a series of questions that allows them to refine and restate their learned knowledge and to form explicit conceptual models. Thinking aloud requires students to articulate their thoughts while solving problems. Students assuming a critical role monitor others in cooperative activities and draw conclusions based on the problem-solving activities. Articulation is described by McLellan [8] as consisting of two aspects: separating component knowledge and skills to learn them more effectively and, more common verbalizing or demonstrating knowledge and thinking processes in order to expose and clarify them.

Reflection[edit]

Reflection allows students to "compare their own problem-solving processes with those of an expert, another student, and ultimately, an internal cognitive model of expertise" (p. 483).[1] A technique for reflection could be to examine the past performances of both expert and novice and to highlight similarities and differences. The goal of reflection is for students to look back and analyze their performances with a desire for understanding and improvement towards the behavior of an expert.

Exploration[edit]

Exploration involves giving students room to problem solve on their own and teaching students exploration strategies. The former requires the teacher to slowly withdraw the use of supports and scaffolds not only in problem solving methods, but problem setting methods as well. The latter requires the teacher to show students how to explore, research, and develop hypotheses. Exploration allows the student to frame interesting problems within the domain for themselves and then take the initiative to solve these problems.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

In-line[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1987). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing and mathematics (Technical Report No. 403). BBN Laboratories, Cambridge, MA. Centre for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois. January, 1987.
  2. ^ a b c Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18, 32-42.
  3. ^ Anderson, J.R. (1983). The architecture of cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  4. ^ Fitts, P.M., & Posner, M.I. (1967). Human performance. Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.
  5. ^ Anderson, J.R. (2000). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
  6. ^ Bandura, A. (1997). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  7. ^ Johnson, S.D. (1992). A framework for technology education curricula which emphasizes intellectual processes. Journal of Technology Education, 3; 1-11.
  8. ^ McLellan, H. (1994). Situated learning: Continuing the conversation. Educational Technology 34, 7- 8.

General[edit]

  • Aziz Ghefaili. (2003). Cognitive Apprenticeship, Technology, and the Contextualization of Learning Environments. Journal of Educational Computing, Design& Online Learning, Vol. 4, Fall, 2003.
  • Anderson, J.R. (1983). The architecture of cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Anderson, J.R. (2000). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
  • Bandura, A. (1997). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18, 32-42.
  • Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1987). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing and mathematics (Technical Report No. 403). BBN Laboratories, Cambridge, MA. Centre for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois. January, 1987.
  • Fitts, P.M., & Posner, M.I. (1967). Human performance. Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.
  • Johnson, S.D. (1992). A framework for technology education curricula which emphasizes intellectual processes. Journal of Technology Education, 3; 1-11.
  • Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Cognitive Apprenticeship, Technology, and the Contextualization of Learning Environments.
  • [2] Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Article by Brown, Collins, and Duguid.
  • [3] Project thereNow. Federally funded cognitive apprenticeship research project.