Chapter published in:The Pragmatics of Adaptability
Edited by N. Daniel Silva and Jacob L. Mey
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 319] 2021
► pp. 285–298
Apprenticeship in microbiology
Embodied adaptation to experimental and technological aspects of learning
Based on participant observation of work in a big US university’s molecular biology department, I discuss how students are guided towards becoming competent scientists. On joining a closely knit community of research and practice, the student has to adapt to an overwhelming environment of techniques, parlance, habits and social mores, while absorbing a massive scientific and practical input. In the apprentice system’s,‘learning by doing’, the mentor-mentee relation and the students’ interactions between themselves and with their studied objects (here, highly contagious bacteria) are more important than verbal teaching; but they also add pressure to the learning process. By adapting to this environment (which includes many smaller adaptive interactions), the apprentices create a solid foundation for their future teaching, research, and practice.
Keywords: science education, mentor/apprenticeship, learning by doing, embodied adaptation, hand/tool coordination
Published online: 17 March 2021
2012 Learning through Interaction and Embodied Practice in a Scientific Laboratory. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.