Cognitive Apprenticeship and Component Display Theory

Learning Theory Comparison

Cognitive Apprenticeship

Basics:

  • Introduced by Collins, Brown, and Newman (1989)
  • “embeds the learning of skills and knowledge in their social and functional context” (p. 454)
  • “teach the processes that experts use to handle complex tasks” (p. 457)
  • Conceptual and factual knowledge used “in solving problems and carrying out tasks” (p. 457)
  • Important instructional strategies are modeling, coaching, scaffolding, fading and reflection
  • Also emphasizes the importance of “self-correction and –monitoring skills” (p. 458) through the use of “discussion, alternation of teacher and learner roles, and group problem solving” (p. 458)

Strengths:

  • Apprenticeship learning has endured for thousands of years
  • Proven teaching strategies such as modeling, coaching, scaffolding, and fading
  • Successful application in a variety of educational settings and subjects

Limitations:

  • Situated learning in a classroom or training setting cannot ever hope to duplicate the complexity of the real world (Vera and Simon, 1993)
  • May be time-consuming to implement; resources may simply not be present to implement such a strategy

Component Display Theory

Basics:

  • Introduced by Merrill (1983, 1994)
  • Like cognitive apprenticeship, it is a cognitive theory of instruction
  • Two broad categories of learning outcomes: performance and content
  • Objectives should be classified within the Performance-Content Matrix and should indicate conditions, behavior and criteria
  • Performance broken into three categories: remember, use, and find
  • Content broken into four categories: facts, concepts, procedures, and principles
  • Performance
          • Remember – “search memory in order to reproduce or recognize some item of information previously known”
          • Use – “apply some abstraction to a specific case”
          • Find – “derive or invent a new abstraction” (1994, p. 112)
  • Content
          • Facts – “arbitrarily associated pieces of information”
          • Concepts – “groups of objects, events, or symbols that all share some common characteristics”
          • Procedures – “an ordered sequence of steps necessary for the learner to accomplish some goal”
          • Principles – “or predictions of why things happen in the world” (1994, p. 113)
  • Primary Presentation Forms
          • Content mode represents the level of specificity of the subject matter
          • Presentation mode deals with the response expected from the learners

Strengths:

  • Organization of both content and learner performance into a single matrix
  • Primary Presentation Forms serve to guide the presentation of the instruction itself, allowing the instructor to ensure that instruction remains aligned with objectives

Limitations:

  • Micro-level scope concerning ideas and concepts may not be applied at broader level by learners (Merrill, Li, & Jones, 1991)
  • Relatedly, the question of time and resources comes into play; each concept would require a unique performance-content matrix

References:

  • Collins, A., Brown, J., & Newman, S. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453-494). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Merrill, M.D. (1983). Component display theory. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.) Instructional design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Merrill, M. D. (1994). Instructional design theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
  • Merrill, M. D., Li, Z., & Jones, M. K. (1991). Limitations of first generation instructional design. Educational Technology, 30(1), 7-11. Retrieved from http://mdavidmerrill.com/Papers/
  • Vera, A. H., & Simon, H. A. (1993). Situated action: A symbolic interpretation. Cognitive Science, 17(1), 7-48.