Clinical teaching based on principles of cognitive apprenticeship: views of experienced clinical teachers

Acad Med. 2013 Jun;88(6):861-5. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828fff12.


Purpose: To explore (1) whether an instructional model based on principles of cognitive apprenticeship fits with the practice of experienced clinical teachers and (2) which factors influence clinical teaching during clerkships from an environmental, teacher, and student level as perceived by the clinical teachers themselves. The model was designed to apply directly to teaching behaviors of clinical teachers and consists of three phases, advocating teaching behaviors such as modeling, creating a safe learning environment, coaching, knowledge articulation, and exploration.

Method: A purposive sample of 17 experienced clinical teachers from five different disciplines and four different teaching hospitals took part in semistructured individual interviews. Two researchers independently performed a thematic analysis of the interview transcripts. Coding was discussed within the research team until consensus was reached.

Results: All participants recognized the theoretical model as a structured picture of the practice of teaching activities during both regular and senior clerkships. According to participants, modeling and creating a safe learning environment were fundamental to the learning process of both regular and senior clerkship students. Division of teaching responsibilities, longer rotations, and proactive behavior of teachers and students ensured that teachers were able to apply all steps in the model.

Conclusions: The theoretical model can offer valuable guidance in structuring clinical teaching activities and offers suggestions for the design of effective clerkships.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Cognition
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Educational*