This article examines teacher induction in the military undergraduate education context. The U.S. Air Force Academy relies on approximately 520 military and civilian instructors to educate nearly 4000 future military officers each year. These educators must be highly skilled and unquestionably capable in their abilities to teach these future leaders. Many of these instructors derive from highly technical active duty operational career fields (such as pilot, missile operator, etc.). This article reveals how Collins’, Brown’s, and Newman’s (1989) theory of cognitive apprenticeship is manifested within teacher induction experiences at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Using a qualitative multiple-case study approach, this research integrated data from observations, interviews, and participant journals to reveal how the six methods of cognitive apprenticeship (modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulating, reflecting, and exploring) are facilitated in the individual operator-to-educator transition experience. The findings from this study inform faculty orientation and faculty development policies and processes within the U.S. Air Force Academy and bear implications for civilian post-secondary educator induction processes as well.


Cognitive Apprenticeship, Military, Educator, Academy, Qualitative Case Study

Author Bio(s)

Colonel Thomas T. Swaim, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Military and Strategic Studies; Chair, Airpower Innovation and Integration; and Director, Center for Airpower Studies, Department of Military & Strategic Studies, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. Colonel Swaim has served in flying operations, joint command and control, military training and education, and staff positions throughout the United States, Europe, and the Pacific. He holds a B.S. in Aviation Management from Auburn University, an M.S. in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, an M.S. in Military Operational Art and Science from Air University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His research focuses in the fields of airpower education, teacher induction, strategy, and the profession of arms.


My thanks to those who graciously supported my research efforts both at the U.S. Air Force Academy and at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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