While reading through articles for one class, the notion of Mirror Neurons and the Mirror Neuron System (MNS) in humans has stuck with me for several weeks. Now, while working on a project examining Cognitive Apprenticeships (CA) in a different class, I had a potential aha moment; are CA, and less specifically, apprenticeships, effective and had such longevity as a teaching style because they play directly to how our brains are wired for learning through imitation?
The MNS are neurons that increase their activity specifically during the act of imitation while seeing and hearing corresponding actions being performed by others. (Gallese, 2009;Keysers, 2009) The MNS may also be responsible for empathy and emotional matching mechanisms (Gallese, 2009)
Cognitive apprenticeship aims to reproduce instructors’ cognitive problem solving abilities through observation and imitation. (Boling, et. al., 2012) Duncan (1996) states that modelling, scaffolding, coaching, and correction are foundational to CA and to apprenticeships at large, and “mirror the methods used by experts and apprentices for hundreds, if not thousands of years.” (Duncan, 1996) This behavior is also observed in very young children through mimicry and imitation of older siblings, peers, family members, and family pets.
“Cognitive apprenticeship comes from a tradition of apprenticeship learning that originated at a time when crafts and skills were learned in a more teacher-guided apprenticeship model, e.g., tailoring, carpentering, and farming. Apprenticeship is still being used in a variety of skill-based contexts, including medical internship and judicial clerkships. However, as education became more formalized in a classroom setting, knowledge was presented in more and more abstract formats.
In general, cognitive apprenticeship is based on teaching decision-making processes. Cognitive apprenticeship is especially useful for skills that are not as readily apparent as those in crafts and trades. In traditional apprenticeships, there are typically three component parts: modeling, scaffolding, and coaching. Cognitive apprenticeships have the additional components of articulation, reflection, and exploration.” (Chan, Miller, & Monroe, 2009)
I think this could be a very interesting topic to explore.
Amory, A. (January 01, 2010). Education Technology and Hidden Ideological Contradictions. Educational Technology & Society, 13, 1, 69-79.
Boling, E., Hough, M. M., Krinsky, H. H., Saleem, H. H., & Stevens, M. M. (2012). Cutting the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what promotes positive, online learning experiences. Internet & Higher Education, 15(2), 118-126.
Buccino, G., Lui, F., Canessa, N., Patteri, I., Lagravinese, G., Benuzzi, F., Porro, C. A., … Rizzolatti, G. (January 01, 2004). Neural Circuits Involved in the Recognition of Actions Performed by Nonconspecifics: An fMRI Study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 1, 114-126.
Chan, P., Miller, R., & Monroe, E. (2009). Cognitive Apprenticeship as an Instructional Strategy for Solving Corporate Training Challenges. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 53(6), 35-41.
Duncan, S. (1996). Cognitive apprenticeship in classroom instruction: implications for industrial and technical teacher education. Journal Of Industrial Teacher Education, 3366-86
Gallese, V. in Pineda, J. A. (2009). Mirror neuron systems: The role of mirroring processes in social cognition. New York: Humana.
Keysers, C. (2009). Mirror neurons. Current Biology, 19(21), R971-R973. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.08.026
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