19. Learning by Doing: Apprenticeship

19.3. University Apprenticeship

An intellectual or the cognitive apprenticeship model is somewhat different because this form of learning is less easily observable than learning motor or manual skills. Pratt and Johnson argue that in this context, master and learner must say what they are thinking during applications of knowledge and skills and must make explicit the context in which the knowledge is being developed, because the context is so critical to the way knowledge is developed and applied. Pratt and Johnson suggest five stages for cognitive and intellectual modeling (p. 99):

  • Modeling by the master and development of a mental model/schema by the learner.
  • Learner approximates replication of the model with master providing support and feedback (scaffolding/coaching).
  • Learner widens the range of application of the model, with less support from the master.
  • Self-directed learning within the specified limits acceptable to the profession.
  • Generalizing: learner and master discuss how well the model might work or would have to be adapted in a range of other possible contexts.

Pratt and Johnson provide a concrete example of how this apprenticeship model might work for a novice university professor (pp. 100-101). They argue that for cognitive apprenticeship it is important to create a forum or set of opportunities for:

Articulate discussion and authentic participation in the realities of practice from within the practice, not from just one single point of view. Only from such active involvement, and layered and cumulative experience does the novice move towards mastery.

The main challenge of the apprenticeship model in a university setting is that it is not usually applied in a systematic matter. The hope that young or new university teachers will have automatically learned how to teach just by observing their own professors teach leaves far too much to chance.

[Removed from Version 1: 3.5.4 Apprenticeship in online environments]