Alger & Kopcha eSupervision and cognitive apprenticeship

Alger, C., & Kopcha, T. J. (2010). Technology supported cognitive apprenticeship transform the student teaching field experience: Improving the student teaching field experience for all triad members. The Teacher Educator, 46(1), pp. 71-88.


Summary: This article describes how the use of eSupervision, an online tool for fostering communication among teacher candidates, their cooperating teachers (called guide teachers in the article), and their university supervisors, can be used to enhance the field experience. The article offers a program description and a program analysis using perception data from the participants. The authors find that eSupervision enhances the field experience by offering an additional layer of support for both preservice teachers and cooperating teachers. It does not mention how supervisors perceive the influence of eSupervision on their practice. The authors also find that participants reported an increased sense of community that extended beyond the relationship of the pre-service teacher and her cooperating teacher. eSupervision fostered communication and an exchange of practical ideas among pre-service teachers and cooperating teachers. eSupervision fostered opportunities to engage in conversations about practice.

Key Words: program description, program analysis, perception data, technology, cognitive apprenticeship, developing expertise, scaffolding, supporting novice learning, coaching, social nature of learning, modeling, teaching, pedagogy of teacher education, feedback, conversations about practice, exchange of practical ideas, reflection, community, collaborative structures


Conceptual Framework: Cognitive apprenticeship

“In a cognitive apprenticeship, these theories are blended with the organization of traditional apprenticeships where an expert models, scaffolds, coaches, and gradually releases control of tasks as the novice learns to perform those tasks (p. 73).”


Method: Qualitative, Perception Data, Semi-structured interviews with 18 participants (2 supervisors, 9 student teachers, 7 cooperating teachers)


Participants: 9 student teaching triads and two supervisors


Intervention description: eSupervision is a course management system. It includes discussion boards, electronic delivery of instruction, online lesson plan builder, downloadable templates



  • All participants responded positively to the initiative, claiming that eSupervisino was a positive experience.
  • All student teachers reported growth from eSupervision.
  • eSupervision provided opportunities for modeling, scaffolding, coaching, articulation, and reflection.
  • eSupervision fostered community among the participants.


Key Passages and Thoughts:

  • “Releasing the supervisor from some observations frees him or her to work face-to-face and online with the student teachers on planning, assessment, and reflection (p. 73).”
  • Sharing of responsibilities between cooperating teacher and university supervisor.
  • Social nature of learning:

    • “Although the situations discussed on the discussion boards were not directly observed by the student teachers, the sharing of experiences and techniques after the face provided students with an opportunity to see what their peers experiences and how they solved problems in the classroom (p. 79).”
  • Supervisors shared stories and solutions to practical dilemmas.
  • Participants appreciated the giving of advice from the university supervisors calling them “super-wise.”
  • eSupervision offered multi-layered support for teacher candidates learning to teach and for cooperating teachers as teacher educators. eSupervision fostered the growth of cooperating teachers pedagogies of teacher education (my language).
  • Cooperating teachers were still the most powerful coaches in influencing teacher candidates’ practice; eSupervision just provided an additional layer of support.
  • “eSupervision provided student teachers with a means for accessing constant and relevant coaching advice from sources other than their guide teacher (p. 81).”
  • “Articulation refers to opportunities for student teachers to communicate their understanding of the processes of teaching (p. 82).”
  • “By providing multiple opportunities for reflection, eSupervision communicates that reflection is valued and important while exposing student teachers to the possibilities and nuances of reflection (p. 82).”