- Oct 2022
Wieman, Carl. “How to Become a Successful Physicist.” Physics Today 75, no. 9 (September 2022): 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.5082
The details here are also good in teaching almost all areas of knowledge, particularly when problem solving is involved.
How might one teach the practice of combinatorial creativity?
Cognitive-science research shows that people improve learning efficiency by practicing the set of specific cognitive tasks required for their area of expertise.11. K. A. Ericsson, R. T. Krampe, C. Tesch-Römer, Psych. Rev. 100, 363 (1993); https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.100.3.363A. Ericsson, R. Pool, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, HarperOne (2017). Although that approach is based on learning research, it is uncoincidentally quite similar to the ideal master–apprentice method for traditionally teaching a craft (see figure 1).
The master-apprentice model of teaching and learning in which the master breaks down a problem into a set of subskills which the apprentice solves and practices with regular feedback for improvement is broadly similar to best pathways shown in cognitive science research on improving learning efficiency for building expertise.
- cognitive science
- problem solving
- cognitive apprenticeships
- decision making
- teaching problem solving
- imitation for learning
- deliberate practice
- physics education
- Apr 2022
In these sessions, students didn’t listen to a description ofcomputer science concepts, or engage in a discussion about the work performedby computer scientists; they actually did the work themselves, under the tutors’close supervision.
The process seen in cognitive apprenticeships seems more akin to the sorts of knowledge transfer done in primary oral indigenous cultures by passing down stories and performing (song, dance, art, etc.) knowledge.
It shouldn't be surprising that cognitive apprenticeships work well given their general use by oral cultures over millennia.
link to: Writing out answers will show gaps in knowledge Performing actions will show gaps in knowledge
crucial difference between traditional apprenticeships and modern schooling: inthe former, “learners can see the processes of work,” while in the latter, “theprocesses of thinking are often invisible to both the students and the teacher.”Collins and his coauthors identified four features of apprenticeship that could beadapted to the demands of knowledge work: modeling, or demonstrating the taskwhile explaining it aloud; scaffolding, or structuring an opportunity for thelearner to try the task herself; fading, or gradually withdrawing guidance as thelearner becomes more proficient; and coaching, or helping the learner throughdifficulties along the way.
This is what’s known as a cognitive apprenticeship, a term coined by Allan Collins, now a professor emeritus of education at Northwestern University. In a 1991 article written with John Seely Brown and Ann Holum, Collins noted a
In a traditional apprenticeship, a learner watches and is able to imitate the master process and work. In a cognitive apprenticeship the process of thinking is generally invisible to both the apprentice and the teacher. The problem becomes how to make the thinking processes more tangible and visible to the learner.
Allan Collins, John Seely Brown, and Ann Holum identified four pedagogical methods in apprenticeships that can also be applied to cognitive apprenticeships: - modeling: demonstrating a task while focusing on describing and explaining the steps and general thinking about the problem out loud - scaffolding: structuring a task to encourage and allow the learner the ability to try it themself - fading: as the learner gains facility and confidence in the process, gradually removing the teacher's guidance - coaching: as necessary, the teacher provides tips and suggestions to the learner to prompt them through potential difficulties