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Scaffolding Strategy

Scaffolding as a Teaching Strategy – Definition and Description
Scaffolding instruction as a teaching strategy originates from Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural
theory and his concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD).  “The zone of proximal
development is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning
that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance” (Raymond, 2000, p.176).  The
scaffolding teaching strategy provides individualized support based on the learner’s ZPD
(Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2002).  In scaffolding instruction a more knowledgeable other provides
scaffolds or supports to facilitate the learner’s development.  The scaffolds facilitate a student’s
ability to build on prior knowledge and internalize new information. The activities provided in
scaffolding instruction are just beyond the level of what the learner can do alone (Olson & Pratt,
2000).  The more capable other provides the scaffolds so that the learner can accomplish (with
assistance) the tasks that he or she could otherwise not complete, thus helping the learner through
the ZPD (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).
Vygotsky defined scaffolding instruction as the “role of teachers and others in supporting the
learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level”
(Raymond, 2000, p. 176).  An important aspect of scaffolding instruction is that the scaffolds are
temporary.  As the learner’s abilities increase the scaffolding provided by the more
knowledgeable other is progressively withdrawn.  Finally the learner is able to complete the task
or master the concepts independently (Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2002, p. 7).    Therefore the goal of
the educator when using the scaffolding teaching strategy is for the student to become an
independent and self-regulating learner and problem solver (Hartman, 2002).  As the learner’s
knowledge and learning competency increases, the educator gradually reduces the supports
provided (Ellis, Larkin, Worthington, n.d.).  According to Vygotsky the external scaffolds ...........................................................................................................................................................
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