Excessive Mentoring? An Apprenticeship Model on a Robotics Team


  • Nathan R. Dolenc University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • Robert H. Tai University of Virginia
  • Douglas Williams University of Louisiana at Lafayette




Apprenticeship, mentoring, out-of-school time, robotics


Participation on a robotics team affords students the opportunity to learn science and engineering skills in a competition-based environment. Mentors on these robotics teams play important roles in helping students acquire these skills. This study used an apprenticeship learning theory to examine how mentors on one high school robotics team contributed to students attaining the knowledge associated with designing and building a robot for competition. How active of a role did mentors play on their competition-based robotics team? How did mentors and students together handle the challenges they faced? The mentor-student interactions detailed in the research revealed an apprenticeship model where mentors played leadership roles reluctant to move beyond modeling tasks to students. The mentors’ roles bring into question if they were granting their students the full opportunities to develop skills associated with working on a robot. Despite these developmental concerns, the students on the team gradually took up simple tasks working side-by-side mentors, saw expert engineers model professional habits, and expressed being inspired while contributing to a winning team.


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How to Cite

Dolenc, N. R., Tai, R. H., & Williams, D. (2020). Excessive Mentoring? An Apprenticeship Model on a Robotics Team. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 6(2), 91–114. https://doi.org/10.51355/jstem.2020.81