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Cognitive Apprenticeship Model

The TECH Share Project at Northern Arizona University (NAU), funded through the Navajo Education Technology Consortium's Star Schools Grant, worked five years of producing technology driven, standards-based, culturally relevant curriculum. The project primarily served 22 K-12 school districts on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. NAU was one of six partners participating in the project including Arizona State University, Dine College, National Indian Telecommunications Institute, New Mexico State University, and the University of New Mexico. One of the primary goals of the TECH Share Project at NAU was to assist the bicultural student to become successful in the dominant society while also maintaining and empowering them with regard to their traditional upbringing. Education was used to help preserve, rather than replace, traditional culture.

Curriculum development was based on a cognitive apprenticeship model that carefully guided students to learn to think critically. Most of the lessons were authentic, representing real-world needs and contexts relevant to Navajo and Hispanic students.  The apprenticeship lesson typically had the following seven steps that led the student to mastery: modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection, and exploration. The apprenticeship process ended with a learner developed model that illustrated their mastery (taken from TECH Share meeting minutes and personal notes).

Modeling involves the expert carrying out a task and/or demonstrating some cognitive domain so that the learner can observe and build a conceptual model.

Coaching consists of observing learners and offering hints, scaffolding, feedback, additional modeling, reminders, and new tasks aimed at bringing their performance closer to that of the expert.

Scaffolding refers to levels of support provided by the master (teacher or local expert) and increasing the complexity of tasks done by the learner (apprentice) while support from the master fades (diminishes).

Articulation includes any method of getting the learner to articulate their knowledge, reasoning, or problem solving processes.

Reflection enables the learner(s) to compare their own problem solving processes with those of an expert, another student, or their own pre-constructed cognitive model.

Exploration involves pushing the learners into a mode of problem solving on their own. Learners are provided opportunities to diversify and apply concepts learned to broaden conceptual applications.

The standard pathway to lesson creation and production following this cognitive apprenticeship model. Visit the Navajo Education Technology Consortium website to view the lessons.