Learning science through research apprenticeships: A critical review of the literature Academic Article uri icon


  • Science education models for secondary and college students as well as K-12 teachers have been dominated by classroom-based approaches. Recently, research apprenticeships wherein learners worked with practicing scientists on authentic scientific research have become increasingly popular. The purpose of this critical review of the literature was to review and synthesize empirical studies that have explored learning outcomes associated with research apprenticeships for science learners. We reviewed 53 studies of scientific research apprenticeship experiences for secondary students, undergraduates and teachers, both pre-service and in-service. The review explored various learning outcomes associated with participation in research apprenticeships. These outcomes included effects of apprenticeship experiences on participant career aspirations, ideas about the nature of science (NOS), understandings of scientific content, confidence for doing science and intellectual development. The extant literature supported many of the presumed positive associations between apprenticeship experiences and desired learning outcomes, but findings related to some themes (e.g., NOS understandings) supported conflicting conclusions. Implications included importance of the length of the apprenticeship, need to explicitly place attention on desired outcomes, and engagement of participants. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

author list (cited authors)

  • Sadler, T. D., Burgin, S., McKinney, L., & Ponjuan, L.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009 11:11 AM