between a student and teacher, an argument is developed that the recursive nature of writing development is an essential element for the learner’s own agency in the creation of a social environment for development. We put forward an argument that the key to understanding development of an individual’s psychological and mental functions lies in analyzing the social interaction that the individual is involved in during the learning process: that is, “the immediate culture of teaching and learning”.
2.3. Scaffolding in classroom situations
With the development of software tools and classrooms interactions as forms of scaffolds, the notion of scaffolding has evolved since its original conception and has changed considerably from the 1990s into the early 21st century. While later approaches have helped researchers understand the kinds of support that are needed to help classroom communities learn successfully, there have also been some aspects of scaffolding that have been difficult to achieve because of the reality of scaffolding in a classroom. Thus, although the notion of scaffolding has evolved, and understanding of providing support in multiple formats has been enriched, it is necessary to think about the critical elements that are missing, such as the ongoing diagnosis of student learning, the careful calibration of support, and fading, the transfer of responsibility to the student. First, we shed some light on this concept and then elaborate it much more.
The term ‘scaffolding’ comes from the works of Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976). The term ‘scaffolding’ was developed as a metaphor to describe the type of assistance offered by a teacher or peer to support learning.
The notion of scaffolding is increasingly being used to describe the support provided for students to learn successfully in classrooms, especially the use of project or design-based activities to teach math and science (e.g., Kafai, 1994; Kolodner et al., 2003; Krajcik et al., 1998). Many of these approaches are based on a socio-constructivist model (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, Mcnamee, Mc Lare, & Budwig, 1980) emphasizing that learning occurs in a rich social context, marked by interaction, negotiation, articulation, and collaboration. The original notion of scaffolding, as used in the initial studies of parent-child interactions (Bruner, 1975) or in teacher-student interactions, focused on situations that allowed for one-on-one interactions between the adult or the expert and the learner. The one-on-one nature of the tutoring allowed the adult/teacher to provide “titrated support” (Stone, 1998) that changed based on the progress made by the learner. However, classroom situations involving many students do not allow for the fine-tuned, sensitive, personalized exchange that occurs in one-on-one or small-group scaffolding. Therefore, instead of one teacher working with each student, support is provided in a paper or software tool that individuals interact with, or classroom activities are redefined so that peers can help each other (e.g., Bell & Davis, 2000; Jackson, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1998; Pun-Tambekar & Kolodner, 2002; Reiser et al., 2001).
Of great importance is allowing the student to complete unassisted tasks as much as possible. The teacher only attempts to help the student with tasks that are just beyond his current capability. Student errors are expected and likely; but, with teacher feedback and prompting, the student is able to achieve the task or goal. When the student takes the responsibility for or masters the task, the teacher begins the process of “fading”, or simply put, the gradual removal of the scaffolding, which allows the student to work independently. Scaffolding is actually a bridge used to build upon what students already know to arrive at something they do not know. If scaffolding is properly administered, it will act as an enabler, not as a disabler (Benson, 1997).
Zhao and Orey (1999, p. 6) summarize this concept in the following order: “Scaffolding is a metaphor to characterize a special type of instructional process which works in a task-sharing situation between the teacher and the learner.” The authors further delineate this basic idea into two key aspects (or rules): “(a) help the learner with those aspects of the task that the learner cannot manage yet; and (b) allow the learner to do as much as he or she can, without help of others”.
2.3.1. Facilitative methods in scaffolding
Many different facilitative tools can be utilized in scaffolding student learning. Among them are: breaking the task into smaller more, manageable parts; using ‘think aloud’, or verbalizing thinking processes when completing a task; cooperative learning, which promotes teamwork and dialogue among peers; concrete prompts, questioning; coaching; cue cards or modeling. Others might include the activation of background knowledge, giving tips, strategies, cues and procedures. Teachers have to be mindful of keeping the learner in pursuit of the task while minimizing the learner’s stress level. Skills or tasks too far out of reach can lead a student to his frustration level, and tasks that are too simple can cause much the same effect.
Each facilitative method used is chosen as an individually tailored instructional tool. Teachers have to have open dialogue with the students to determine what and how they are thinking in order to clear up misconceptions and to individualize instruction. Crucial to successful scaffolding is an understanding of the student’s prior knowledge and abilities. The teacher must ascertain what the student already knows so that it can be “hooked”, or connected to the new knowledge and made relevant to the learner’s life, thus increasing the motivation to learn.
2.3.2. Characteristics and Critical Features of Scaffolded Instruction
Lange (2002) believes that there are two major steps involved in instructional scaffolding:
(1) development of instructional plans to lead the students from what they already know to a deep understanding of new material,” and (2) “execution of the plans, wherein the instructor provides support to the students at every step of the learning process.
In an appropriate scaffolding process, there will be specific identifiable features that are in place to allow facilitation of assisting the learner in internalizing the knowledge until mastery occurs. Applebee and Langer (1983), as cited by Zhao and Orey (1999, p. 6), identify these five features as:
• Intentionality: The task has a clear overall purpose driving any separate activity that may contribute to the whole.
• Appropriateness: Instructional tasks pose problems that can be solved with help but which students could not successfully complete on their own.
• Structure: Modeling and questioning activities are structured around a model of appropriate approaches to the task and lead to a natural sequence of thought and language.
• Collaboration: The teacher’s response to student work recasts and expands upon the students’ efforts without rejecting what they have accomplished on their own. The teacher’s primary role is collaborative rather than evaluative.
• Internalization: External scaffolding for the activity is gradually withdrawn as the patterns are internalized by the students.
Larkin (2002) suggests that scaffolding is one of the principles of effective instruction that enables teachers to accommodate individual student needs. In keeping with this theory, it can be seen that instruction must also be tailored around “contingent instruction”, which is a term identified by Reichgerlt, Shadbolt, Paskiewica, Wood and Wood (1993) as cited by Zhao and Orey (1999). The teacher or MKO realizes that the amount of instructional support given is dependent upon the outcome of the previous assistance. If a learner is unable to complete a task after an intervention by the MKO, then he or she is immediately given a more specific directive. Equally, if the learner is successful with an intervention, then he or she is given a less explicit directive the next time he or she needs assistance. Next, the instructor or MKO must recognize that the instructional intervention must be specific to the task the learner is currently attempting to complete. Finally, the teacher must keep in the forefront of the process that the student must be given ample time to apply the directive or to try a new move him/herself before additional intervention is supplied.
2.3.3. Challenges and Benefits of Scaffolding
As with any other learning theory or strategy, there are challenges and benefits to scaffolding. Understanding and comparing both will assist the educational professional or trainer in their assessment of the usefulness of the strategies and techniques as well as allow for comprehensive planning before implementation. The challenges are real but can be overcome