Unit 1 - Introduction to Cognitive Apprenticeship

This page last changed on Jan 23, 2008 by wikiadm1.


OBJECTIVES: At the end of this unit the student will be able to:

  • Define Apprenticeship
  • Define Cognitive Apprenticeship
  • Differentiate between traditional apprenticeship and cognitive apprenticeship
  • Explain the framework of Cognitive Apprenticeship
  • Explain the Principles of the Cognitive Apprenticeship Instructional Model

The Nature of Apprenticeship


Apprenticeship is a system of learning by watching and doing. Learning has traditionally come about through a teacher-learner mode whether in the family, workplace, classroom, or social environment where learners learn through acts, demonstrations, guided practice, or instructions from others. This teaching and learning process is seen as an act of apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is commonly recognized as a workplace process of job training, but apprenticeship can happen in any environment in which there is a master-teacher (subject matter expert) and an individual (learner - apprentice) seeking to learn or learning the master's subject.

In modern times, there are many types of apprenticeship programs that has largely been replaced by formal schooling, except in children's learning of language, in some aspects of graduate education, and in on-the-job training. This course focuses on using the key elements of an apprenticeship program in a schooling environment as a tool to promote problem-solving skills.

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Why, you might ask is the apprenticeship concept being used in schooling?

In apprenticeship, learners can see the processes of work. Apprenticeship involves learning a physical, tangible activity. But in schooling, the "practice" of problem solving, reading comprehension, and writing is not at all obvious -- it is not necessarily observable to the student. In apprenticeship, the processes of thinking are visible. In schooling, the processes of thinking are often invisible to both the students and the teacher. One example of an apprenticeship program where is process o thinking is made visible is at Kennedy Middle School students in Redwood City, California participated in a Cyber-Bullying/Film Apprenticeship program with Stanford Education student Debbie Heimowitz who is making a TV show about cyber-bullying; the students are also learning advertising skills, click video to view the video.

How will the apprenticeship concept be incorporated into the instructional system?

To address some of the learning needs of teaching and learning in schools today especially in the area of performing problem solving
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tasks, Collins, Brown, and Newman (1989) educational researchers identified an alternative model of instruction that is accessible within the framework of the typical American classroom. It is a model of instruction that goes back to apprenticeship but incorporates elements of schooling called "cognitive apprenticeship" (Collins, Brown, and Newman, 1989). Cognitive Apprenticeship can be used in a classroom as an instructional design or learning technique, in which students learn through help and guidance of a teacher or "expert." This guided participation helps the student achieve a task that independently would be too hard or complicated.

What is Cognitive Apprenticeship?

Cognitive Apprenticeship is a paradigm shift in learning. This model of instructional delivery will be used to redefine learning to make it visible to learner. According to Collins, Brown, Newman, 1989, Cognitive Apprenticeship is a method of teaching aimed primarily at teaching the processes that experts use to handle complex tasks. The focus of this learning-through-guided-experience is on cognitive and metacognitive skills, rather than on the physical skills and processes of traditional apprenticeships. Applying apprenticeship methods to largely cognitive skills requires the externalization of processes that are usually carried out internally. Observing the processes by which an expert listener or reader thinks and practices these skills can teach students to learn on their own more skillfully ( Conway, 1997, 5). In this learning environment, learners are presented with a real-world context embedded with authentic tasks that emphasize social interaction and situated learning.

What are the goals of Cognitive Apprenticeship?

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  • To address the problem of inert knowledge
  • To make the thinking process of a learning activity visible
  • To employ methods of traditional apprenticeship
    • Modeling
    • Coaching
    • Scaffolding
    • Fading
  • To effectively guide student learning
  • To teach the cognitive and metacognitive skills associated with a specific domain of knowledge
  • To teach the processes and strategies used to problem solve
  • To teach students learn to think

Now that you have learned the nature of apprenticeship along with the definition of Cognitive Apprenticeship; it is time to learn the about the principles, theory, framework and goals of a Cognitive Apprenticeship instructional model. Click on Unit 2 below to learn more.

Click this link to learn about the Principles of Cognitive Apprenticeship.

Click this link to learn about the Framework of the Cognitive Apprenticeship instructional model.

Learning Activity

Now that you have learned about apprenticeship and philosophy, theory, framework, and goals of the Cognitive Apprenticeship instructional model; assess your understanding. In the comment box at the bottom of this page, answer the following questions:

  1. State 3 goals of the Cognitive Apprenticeship model.
  2. Ghefaili in his article, Cognitive Apprenticeship, Technology, and the Contextualization of Learning Environments, identified
    four primary principles and theories that influence Cognitive Apprenticeship. What are they?
  3. What is the framework of Cognitive Apprenticeship?
  4. Cognitive apprenticeship seeks to make the process of a learning activity visible. What is that process?


Cognitive Apprenticeship is one the latest instructional methods for teaching problem-solving skills in the classroom. As you have learned, the nature of Cognitive Apprenticeship is complex and rich in the constructivist and cognitive framework of teaching and learning. In addition, you have learned that principally traditional apprenticeship entails watching and doing whereas, cognitive apprenticeship is a mental process that requires the teacher to think through the process of teaching by modeling, coaching, and scaffolding and at the same time helping the learner to achieve mastery and reach the ZPD through articulation, reflection and exploration.

This concludes Unit 1: Introduction to Apprenticeship, click on Unit 2 to learn the principles to incorporate this model into your classroom instruction.

Course Navigation: At any time during this Unit you can use one of the following links to exit or the Page Orientation panel on the left:

Cognitive Apprenticeship

Unit 2 - Principles for Designing a Cognitive Apprenticeship Classroom

Unit 3 - Wrap Up and Course Evaluation


Aziz Ghefaili. (2003). Cognitive Apprenticeship, Technology, and the Contextualization of Learning Environments (PDF). Journal of Educational Computing, Design& Online Learning, Vol. 4, Fall, 2003. Retrieved on October 10, 2007 from a Google Search at http://coe.ksu.edu/jecdol/Vol_4/Articles/Aziz.htm

Debbie Heimowitz. Kennedy Middle School students in Redwood City, California participated in a Cyber-Bullying/Film Apprenticeship program with Stanford Education student. Retrieved on November 20, 2007 from http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1386659198916871562&q=apprenticeship&total=415&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=3Judith

Conway. (1997) Educational Technology's Effect on Models of Instuction. Educational Technology, May 1997. Retrived on October 10, 2007 from http://copland.udel.edu/~jconway/EDST666.htm&nbsp

Carol L. Tilley and Daniel Callison. (3007) _New Mentors for New Media: Harnessing the Instructional Potential of Cognitive Apprenticeship. _Knowlege Quest. Vol 35, No5, May/Je 2007.|

Images: Apprentice1, Apprentice2, Classroom, Visual Thinking, Cognitive Domain, and Paradigm Shift. Retrieved October 10, 2007 from Images.Google.com
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Document generated by Confluence on Aug 31, 2008 15:05