- Apr 2022
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