Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing, and mathematics - Collins, Brown, Newman

Collins, A., Brown, J.S., and Newman, S. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser, pp. 453-494. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Although schools have been relatively successful in organizing and conveying large bodies of conceptual and factual knowledge, standard pedagogical practices render key aspects of expertise invisible to students. As a result, conceptual and problem-solving knowledge acquired in school remains largely unintegrated or inert for many students.

For example. students are unable to make use of potential models of good writing acquired through reading because they have no understanding of the strategies and processes required to produce such text. Stuck with what Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) call "knowledge-telling strategies," they are unaware that expert writing involves organizing one's ideas about a topic, elaborating goals to be achieved in the writing, thinking about what the audience is likely to know or believe about the subject, and so on.

To make real differences in students' skill, we need both to understand the nature of expert practice and to devise methods appropriate to learning that practice. (p455) 
[this is also probably true for teachers - both pre-service and in-service it would be interesting to study expert teachers]

First and foremost, apprenticeship focuses closely on the specific methods for carrying out tasks in a domain. Apprentices learn these methods through a combination of what Lave calls observation, coaching, and practice, or what we, from the teacher's point of view, call modeling, coaching and fading.

The interplay between observation, scaffolding, and increasingly independent practice aids apprentices both in developing se lf-monitoring and correction skills and in integrating the skills and conceptual knowledge needed to advance toward expertise.

Observation plays a surprisingly key role; Lave hypothesizes that it aids learners in developing a conceptual model of the target task or process prior to attempting to execute it.

Conceptual models provide:
1. an advanced organizer
2. an interpretitive structure
3. encourages reflection, comparison and diagnosing difficulties

Cognitive apprenticeship:
1. the method is aimed primarily at teaching the processes that experts use to handle complex tasks
2. focus of the learning-through-guided-experience on cognitive and metacognitive, rather than physical, skills and processes
3. have problem solver alternate among different cognitive activities while carrying out a complex task. Most notably, complex cognitive activities involve some version of both generative and evaluative processes (producer and critic).

Cognitive research:
1. protocol analysis
2. reflect on differences between novice and expert performances through abstracted replay
3. tasks are selected and sequenced to reflect the changing demands of learning

Active vs. passive learning: Students can learn by reading or listening to lectures. But passive forms of learning tend to result less learning, retention, and understanding. Students can learn to engage in active reading or listening. But few learn to do this on their own. Observing the processes by which an expert listener or reader thinks and practicing these skills under the guidance of the expert can teach students to learn on their own more skillfully.

Three Successful Models of Cognitive apprenticeship
- Palincsar and Brown's reciprocal teaching of reading: (formulating questions, summarizing, clarification, prediction)
- Bereiter and Scardamalia's Procedural Facilitation of Writing: five general processes or goals: (a) generating a new idea, (b) improving an idea, (c) elaborating an idea , (d) identifying goals, and (e) putting ideas into a cohesive whole.
- Schoenfeld's Method of Teaching Mathematical Problem Solving: heuristic strategies (e.g., distinguish special cases, solve a simpler problem, draw a picture); assigning roles to students (idea generator, critic, moderator/manager); train them to ask each other (and then themselves) questions like: what are you doing? How will success doing this help you?
[JC: this reminds me of Vygotsky's description of the internalization of language of tools - first languague is use to mediate interpersonal communication, then intra-personal thought]

Cognitive apprenticeship methods:
1. Modeling
2. Coaching
3. Scaffolding & Fading
4. Articulation
5. Reflection
6. Exploration

Collins et al., have identified some dimensions or principles that should guide the sequencing of learning activities to facilitate the development of robust problem-solving skills:
1. Increasing complexity
2. Increasing diversity
3. Global before local skills

Five characteristics affecting the sociology of learning:
1. Situated learning
2. Culture of expert practice
3. Intrinsic motivation
4. Exploiting cooperation
5. Exploiting competition

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