Cognitive Apprenticeship (Collins et al.)

Summary: Cognitive Apprenticeship is a theory that attempts to bring tacit processes out in the open. It assumes that people learn from one another, through observation, imitation and modeling.

Originator: Collins, Brown and Newman

Key Terms: Modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection

Cognitive Apprenticeship

Around 1987, Collins, Brown, and Newman developed six teaching methods — modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection and exploration. These methods enable students to cognitive and metacognitive strategies for “using, managing, and discovering knowledge”


Experts (usually teachers or mentors) demonstrate a task explicitly. New students or novices build a conceptual model of the task at hand. For example, a math teacher might write out explicit steps and work through a problem aloud, demonstrating her heuristics and procedural knowledge.