Cognitive Apprenticeship

By the time we are three years old we have mastered two massive lessons we will need for the rest of our lives - walking and talking. Interestingly, it takes place without formal instruction, failure was never considered, and it just seems natural. It represents a learning model that corresponds with the way the brain works, and the way humans learn naturally. Human beings are predisposed to learn from and adapt to their environment.

Cognitive apprenticeship seeks to engage learners in real-world scenarios in which they act and interact to achieve useful outcomes. The workplace has a number of strengths as a learning environment: authentic, goal-oriented activities; access to guidance; everyday engagement in problem-solving; and intrinsic reinforcement.

Kerka, Sandra. (1997) Constructivism, workplace learning, and vocational education. ERIC Digest 181; 1-4. Quoted in: Cognitive Apprenticeship as an Instructional Model Jennifer Brill, Beaumie Kim, Chad Galloway, University of Georgia.

Cognitive Apprenticeship has six dimensions:

  • Modelling: showing how a process unfolds and giving reasons for why it happens that way.
  • Scaffolding: a cooperative problem solving effort by teachers and students in which the express intention is for the students to assume as much of the task on their own as possible.
  • Coaching: provides hints, encouragement, feedback, reminders, basically any type of assistance necessary to complete a task.
  • Exploration: pushing students to try out their hypotheses, methods and strategies with the similar processes that the experts do to solve problems.
  • Articulation: an expression of the learner to enable others to understand, and refine.
  • Reflection: considering what has been accomplished and what may be improved upon.
  • The Cognitive Apprenticeship model is regarded by many educators as the one that 'goes with the grain of the brain'. One of its more notable proponents, John Abbott, explains what this means in this short video.