Critique of Cognitive Apprenticeship Written by Brill, Kim, & Galloway

Tony Estudillo
Indiana University in Bloomington

Main Ideas

The chapter was easy for me to follow along; kept me interested from start to finish, and made me want to learn more about the ideas revolving around cognitive apprenticeship and instruction. I enjoyed reading about two distinct classrooms, one that emphasized a traditional or didactic approach and the other that concentrated on a more comprehensive approach to student learning. The later approach, highlighting what a cognitive apprenticeship looked like within a classroom setting, including a variety of skills and techniques that, if practiced, may create an effective, creative, and student-centered learning environment.

The organization of the chapter, using the two varied classroom settings, presented the idea of cognitive apprenticeship as follows: first, teacher modeling (e.g., Ms Reed actively engaging with students as a facilitator); second, coaching (e.g., Ms. Reed constantly encouraged her students to perform tasks and be creative); third, scaffolding (e.g., Ms Reed presented her class with activities, providing structure, and then allowed for students to build from this framework and discover on their own); fourth, exploration (e.g., Ms Reed provided an outlet, face-to-face contact with specific community members, for student-to-presenter collaboration); and fifth, lastly articulation and reflection (e.g., there were consistent opportunities for Ms. Reed and her students to actively engage each classroom meeting through social interaction, discussion, and feedback). In comparison to Ms. Reed’s classroom, the one showcasing student learning through cognitive apprenticeship, Ms. Beauchamp's classroom placed too much time and effort on practicing traditional methods of instruction. Ms. Beauchamp ought to have suggested that student’s brainstorm or form groups to all the students to reflect on their own.

The authors presented all the key components related to cognitive apprenticeship in a manner that not only introduced important terms, but actual examples as in the aforementioned descriptions in the previous paragraph. The use of slides and video was also a good way of providing yet another avenue for a reader, such as myself, to learn about cognitive apprenticeship.

Application of Ideas

The authors presented a brief, yet thorough explanation of cognitive apprenticeship. However, a few initial questions came to mind immediately. First of all, I thought the literature review did a good job of providing a foundation for cognitive apprenticeship; however, I do question whether the authors could have found more recent citations, as in the last 7 years. Second, although I realize the authors were trying to prove their positions, not enough was mentioned about traditional learning and what context it has been effective, if any. Generally speaking, I came away from the chapter wondering whether cognitive apprenticeship is currently being advocated, among educators in the schools?

The integration of cognitive apprenticeship within educational settings or environments, in my opinion, may help to provide a more egalitarian emphasis among student-teacher interaction. As teachers work in classrooms as facilitators of knowledge, the student in turn may gain more ownership over her learning as well as make connections with learning and self-awareness. I think such outcomes may be possible when educators concentrate on utilizing the concepts and ideas of cognitive apprenticeship. The main challenge, I foresee, is practicing the ideas presented in a timely manner. Therefore, as in anything, the application of cognitive apprenticeship would require a patient and experienced educator who is willing to try innovative means of instruction and yet be willing to make adjustments to match the diversity of students and concepts presented.

Evaluating the Information: Strengths and Weaknesses

The strengths of this chapter included an organized presentation, the use of slides and video, and an interesting topic. The weaknesses included fictional classroom settings meant to reinforce the author’s viewpoints. In addition, there was no empirical evidence stated within the chapter to back up their claims nor was there a clear citation from evidence noted within the chapter. Finally, not enough was introduced about traditional teaching to determine whether it has proven to be effective or not. The key insights of the chapter include the use of slides and video to add to the reader’s overall understanding of what cognitive apprenticeship may look like within a classroom setting.

To strengthen the article, the authors might, use citations within the chapter to reinforce evidence based knowledge on cognitive apprenticeship usage within classroom settings. Although the video presented was in relation to the chapter, it may have made more of an impact on me if it showcased an actual classroom setting, rather than simply one fictional instructor and one fictional student.