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Greg McVerry

Even today, many complex and important skills, such as thoserequired for language use and social interaction, are learned informally through apprenticeshiplikemethods--i.e., methods involving not didactic teaching, but observation, coaching, and successiveapproximation while carrying out a variety of tasks and activities

Perhaps as a by-product of the specialization of learning in schools,skills and knowledge taught in schools have become abstracted from their uses in the world. Inapprenticeship learning, on the other hand, target skills are not only continually in use by skilledpractitioners, but are instrumental to the accomplishment of meaningful tasks.

While schools have been relatively successful inorganizing and conveying large bodies of conceptual and factual knowledge, standard pedagogicalpractices render key aspects of expertise invisible to students.

In order to make real differences in students' skill, we need both to understand the nature of expertpractice and to devise methods that are appropriate to learning that practice.

we believe that it can best be taught through methods that emphasize what Lave (in preparation)calls successive approximation of mature practice, methods that have traditionally been employed inapprenticeship to transmit complex physical processes and skills.

he interplay between observation, scaffolding, andincreasingly independent practice aids apprentices both in developing self-monitoring and -correctionskills, and in integrating the skills and conceptual knowledge needed to advance toward expertise.

Having a conceptual model is an important factor in apprenticeship's success in teaching complex skills without resortingto lengthy practice of isolated subskills, for three related reasons. First, it provides learners with anadvanced organizer Second, ac onceptual model provides an interpretative structure for making sense of the feedback, hints, and corrections . And third, it provides an internalized guide for the period of relatively.

Apprenticeship derives many (cognitively important) characteristics fromits embedding in a subculture in which most, if not all, members are visible participants in the targetskills.

Moreover, it is not uncommon for apprentices to have accessto several masters and, thus, to a variety of models of expertise. Such richness and variety helpsapprentices to understand that there may be multiple ways of carrying out a task and to recognizethat no one individual embodies all knowledge or expertise.

First, these methods are aimed primarily at teaching the processes that experts use tohandle complex tasks. Second, the term cognitive apprenticeship refers to the fact that the focus of the learning-through-guided-experience is on cognitive and metacognitive, rather than on physical, skills and processes

Applying apprenticeship methods to largely cognitive skills requires the externalization of processesthat are usually carried out internally.

Cognitive apprenticeship also requires extended techniques to encourage the development of self-correction and -monitoring skills, as we cannot rely on the transparent relationship between processand product that characterizes the learning of such physical skills as tailoring.

A second means of encouraging the development of self-monitoring and -correction skills is based onthe insight that these skills require the problem solver to alternate among different cognitive activitieswhile carrying out a complex task.

Cognitive apprenticeship must find a way to create aculture of expert practice for students to participate in, and aspire to, as well as devise meaningfulbenchmarks and incentives for progress.

Wepropose that cognitive apprenticeship should extend situated learning to diverse settings so thatstudents learn how to apply their skills in different contexts.

Even in domains that rest on elaborate conceptual and factual underpinnings, students must learnthe practice or art of solving problems and carrying out tasks.

Desigining Learning Environments

  • Domain Knowledge
  • Problem-solving strategies and heuristics
  • Control strategies
  • Learning Strategies

Methods for Teaching

  • Modeling
  • Coachig
  • Scaffolding
  • Articulation
  • Reflection
  • Exploring


  • Increase complexity
  • Increase global
  • Increase diversity

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