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Iván M Borja Reaction Paper 2 April 10, 2007

Bot, Gossiaux, Rauch, and Tabiou (2005) discuss the use of the “Apprentisage Par

l’Action” (APA) teaching method in corporate training and teaching of physical sciences

and mathematics.

The paper begins with an explanation of the challenges that sciences’ teachers

face is done. The paper identifies three major challenges in today’s societies: challenges

for societies in general; challenges surrounding the professionalization of engineers; and

scientific challenges. Later, the four APA elements are described: real life simulation; the

management of non-success; the result requirement; and the monitoring of students’

progress. These four pedagogical aspects are supposed to meet the challenges mentioned


The APA model conceives four phases in student learning: technical, inductive,

deductive and applicative. All these phases contribute to the generation of new

knowledge and they are similar to cycles of problem solving (Bot et al., 2005). Also,

teachers’ roles in the APA model are distinguished as follows: the conception of situation

problems; the monitoring of sessions; and the learning assessment. All three roles are

practiced by the same teacher during the teaching process.

The final part of the document makes an evaluation of current experiences of the

model in the Ecole des Mines de Nantes School of Engineering. Most of the students

agree that the APA model provides them with an opportunity to connect their theoretical

experience with real problems. Bot et al. realize the fragility of the assessment of the

method; however they emphasize its advantage in transforming theory into practical

Bot et al. defines the APA model as similar to the learning-by-doing model.

Dewey (1933) defines the learning-by-doing teaching method as part of his philosophy.

Since then, several instructional models have been based on his concepts. Like those, the

APA model run a process of reflection, formulation of hypotheses, experimentation and

drawing of conclusions.

Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (2005) affirm that learners learn more effectively

when they are presented in the context of real life situations. Also, they consider that

societies demands more integration between the learner and their communities. Since this

perspective, the APA method could provide the learners with the appropriate training to

develop better in their careers.

As a teacher, I have realized that societies need trained people but also a

commitment from them with the development of their communities. The APA model

looks as a good instrument to involve students with social matters through their practical


The APA method shows important weaknesses. Even when the method has the

expected learning outcomes, it still requires being more elaborated and validated. It’s

necessary to define the APA model as an extension (or application) of Dewey’s concepts,

or as a new totally approach. If so, the APA model requires to strong its own assessment

and goes beyond isolated positive outcomes.


Bot, L., Gossiaux, P.B., Rauch, C.P., & Tabiou, S. (2005). “Learning by doing”: a
teaching method for active learning in scientific graduate education. European
Journal of Engineering Education, 30(1), 105-119.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we Think, A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to

the Educational Process. Boston, MA: D.C. Health.

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2005). The Adult Learner: The
Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (6th ed.).
Burlington, MA: Elsevier.