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Features of the cognitive apprenticeship

Feature # 1: Situated learning environment
To promote transfer, learning is "situated" in the actual job context as much as possible. Thus, learners work behind their desks or in whatever setting is typical of the job site. Likewise, the simulation should respond in job-realistic fashion. Thus, the loan officer makes money.

Feature # 2: Problem-based learning through guided discovery
Cognitive apprenticeships support the instructional concept that learning occurs through the solution of job-realistic problems. Learners are given the freedom to access various sources of information about the case and to take various actions to resolve it. To manage the workload and assure access to all key knowledge and skills, cases need to be carefully constructed and sequenced. For example, in medical school, if all of the cases consisted of broken legs, the range of skills gained would be limited.

Feature # 3: Scaffolding
The key to learning is to provide resources to aid in the solution of problems. I call this management of the "flounder factor." This can be provided through coaching, references, and models of best practices to name a few.

Feature # 4: Naturalistic feedback and learning from errors
Typically, learners are allowed to make decisions and judge how well they did based on outcomes of the simulation. For example, in the Fair Lending Challenge simulation, feedback sources include the lawyer, the amount of commission earned, the time to complete interviews and make decisions, and the performance appraisal given by the branch manager. The cognitive apprenticeship is built on the philosophy that errors are opportunities for learning and, unlike the behavioral architecture, they are encouraged.

Feature # 5: Time compression
although this type of instruction can be provided in the classroom, the use of the computer to compress time and thus experience is a unique strategy to accelerate expertise. Recall the research on Sherlock described above. There is no substitute for experience to build expertise, and by compressing experience along with good instructional support, expertise can be built faster. Thus in the Fair Lending Challenge, one week is compressed into two hours of simulation.

Feature # 6: Reflection and replay
The real environment rarely gives one the opportunity to retry a problem to see how a different approach would work. The cognitive apprenticeship encourages reflective practice by allowing for the replay of case studies by trying different options.

Feature # 7: Collaborative learning
Many years of research have shown the benefits of learners working in groups to solve problems collaboratively. This presents a challenge to the multimedia cognitive apprenticeship, which may not allow for group learning. However, by making use of the Internet or an intranet, collaborative groups could be technologically integrated as a feature of this design.

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