Cognitive apprenticeship in WBL
In order to improve the opportunities of young people in the labor market in Serbia, there are some projects, often in cooperation with some other countries actively engaged in this topic, with idea and mission to implement and pilot programs, systems and methodologies that have proved successful. The challenge is to "try" them and apply them with an adaptation to various factors such as: cultural identity, environment, opportunities, educational system, and more.
This kind of projects usually runs across various techniques, methods, and theories on how to educate adults in the way that is specific to workplace learning. From the motivation for learning, the importance and role of mentors in this process, the relationship between mentors and trainees to situational learning, cognitive apprenticeship and the evaluative process, concept of workplace learning has become increasingly clear and logical to me.
Below, I will describe one segment of workplace learning.
One of the workplace learning models is cognitive apprenticeship. For me, this model is a very interesting way of transferring and developing the knowledge, skills, self-confidence and competencies required to work in a particular workplace.
We can recognize a model of learning that underlies cognitive apprenticeship in non-formal education on a daily basis, from early childhood to adult age. At an early age, children learn to speak, sort their things, assemble toy parts and they do all this in the home, outside the education system, with the support of their parents who are here as mentors - show them how to do it and help them with these functions. Adults learn how to master work tasks at work (especially if they find themselves in the situation of having to change jobs) with the instruction, assistance and support of more experienced colleagues.
This model of learning implies one-to-one or one-to-a group of apprentices and is not very popular and realistic in modern fast developing society. But, if you have someone who would like to learn something, someone who is very motivated for specific work place one of the best solution for learning can be cognitive apprenticeship. According to A.Collins cognitive apprenticeship emphasizes that knowledge must be used in solving real-world problems, focus is on cognitive skills and processes and emphasizes general knowledge so it can be used in many different settings.
The concept of a cognitive apprenticeship—defined as “learning through guided experience on cognitive and metacognitive, rather than physical, skills and processes” by Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1989).
Model of the six methods of cognitive apprenticeship:
- Modeling — the mentor demonstrates the knowledge and skill for the trainees on a specific task – he/she shows to a trainees how to do task in the regular and the best way;
- Coaching — in this step trainee try to do task by themself and mentor observes a trainee’s performance, and provides constructive feedback;
- Scaffolding — this is the most important step in this kind of learning model. Mentor now scan eventually problems in trainee`s performance and give them support and help to understand and do task. In this step mentor encourages trainees to work independently;
- Articulation — trainees are required to talk about what he/she is doing, to explain and think about what they are doing by making their knowledge explicit;
- Reflection — a mentor encourages a trainee to reflect on task, to compare his/her response to a problem situation (task) with mentor`s work on same task or possibly with that of another trainee;
- Exploration — a teacher provides students with opportunities to explore new but similar tasks.
By Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1987). the first three, modeling, coaching, scaffolding, are at the core of cognitive apprenticeship and help with cognitive and metacognitive development. The next two, articulation and reflection, are designed to help trainees with awareness of problem-solving strategies and execution similar to that of an expert. The final step, exploration, intends to guide the trainees towards independence and the ability to solve and identify problems within the domain on their own.
In order to have better opportunity for employment, adults are usually prepared and ready for some new way of learning, new method or new approach to working tasks. Colleagues with more experience are usually there to provide support for new workers. When we learn from each other and when we feel collegial and helpful, it is big chance that we will succeed in mastering the work tasks that our job is facing.