Scaffolding is an instructional technique in which the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the student. It is a support that teachers sometimes provide for children's learning to enable a child to accomplish as much of a task as possible with adult assistance (McGee & Richgels, 1996).
Awareness of some essential features of scaffolding helps educators to apply this technique effectively as a part of their instruction. First, the scaffolding must occur in a collaborative context that honors the child's intention. Second, the adult and child must be operating in the child's zone of proximal development. Third, the gradual withdrawal of support must occur over time for the child to become independent (Beed, Hawkins, & Roller, 1991).
Gradual withdrawal of support can be seen in the levels of scaffolding discussed by Beed, Hawkins, and Roller (1991):
When using scaffolding, the teacher selects the appropriate level of support to offer the child. Support can be easily adjusted on the basis of the child's performance.