Implementing cognitive apprenticeship theory into the design of a doctor of pharmacy course

Heather Rucker, Jimmi Hatton Kolpek, Jeff Cain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Cognitive apprenticeship theory is a model instructors can use to develop expert thinking in a classroom setting. Cognitive apprenticeship theory has been discussed in the literature; however, descriptions of its application in the classroom setting are lacking. We describe how cognitive apprenticeship guided the development and implementation of a new critical care course with a goal of making expert thinking “visible” to students. Educational activity and setting: A four-credit-hour course implemented in the 2018–2019 academic year was developed around the dimensions of cognitive apprenticeship. Clinical pharmacists with the affiliated healthcare system contributed to the design and implementation. Elements of the course in which cognitive apprenticeship theory guided the design included pre-class work, in-class group work, and an attending-facilitated discussion session. Findings: All four dimensions of cognitive apprenticeship were incorporated throughout the course. The course coordinator perceived that student questions and the quality of the discussion were higher level than in previous years. Cognitive apprenticeship theory can be used to design and implement a professional doctor of pharmacy course that prepares students for the types of thinking required in practice. We believe this model could be successfully implemented at other schools of pharmacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-842
Number of pages8
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Active learning
  • Cognitive apprenticeship
  • Critical thinking
  • Curriculum
  • Pharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacy


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