19. Learning by Doing: Apprenticeship

19.1. The Importance of Apprenticeship as a Teaching Method

Apprenticeship is one of the most common and well-established forms of experiential learning. Bloom and his colleagues designated psycho-motor skills as the third domain of learning back in 1956. Learning by doing is particularly common in teaching motor skills, such as learning to ride a bicycle or play a sport, but examples can also be found in higher education, such as teaching practice, medical internships, and laboratory studies.

Apprenticeship is a particular way of enabling students to learn by doing. It is often associated with vocational training where a more experienced tradesman or journeyman models behaviour, the apprentice attempts to follow the model, and the journeyman provides feedback. However, apprenticeship is the most common method used to train post-secondary education instructors in teaching (at least implicitly), so there is a wide range of applications for an apprenticeship approach to teaching.

Because a form of apprenticeship is the often implicit, default model also for university teaching, and in particular for pre-service training of university instructors, apprenticeship will be discussed separately from other forms of experiential learning, although it is really just one, very commonly used, version.