Scaffolding



How teachers interact with students as they complete a task is important to the students' ability to perform the activity. Scaffolding is an instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students.

Clay and Cazden (1992) point out two scaffolding strategies in teaching reading: working with new knowledge and accepting partially correct responses. In the first strategy, when a teacher suspects the child does not have the ideas or words needed for a particular text, he/she may explain some part of the story or contrast a feature presented with something he/she knows the child understands from another reading. In the second strategy, the teacher uses what is correct in the student's response but probes or cues the student, so as to suggest good possibilities for active consideration.

Another scaffolding strategy is for the teacher to model the appropriate thinking or working skills in the classroom. Such modeling helps children learn to operate in the school culture. Harmin (1994) notes the applicability of Rosenshine's Guided Practice technique for developing student understanding and provides an actual example in language arts instruction in the classroom.

Recognizing what you do know in a problem, as well as what you don't yet understand, are aspects of metacognition in problem solving that are similar to a scaffolding approach. Perkins & Solomon (1989) point out that an expert's behavior appears to be strongly driven by prior knowledge. When faced with an unfamiliar problem, he or she may construct a similar but simpler problem. In this way, the expert learner manages his/her own gradual self-regulation and enables him/herself to grow to meet the new task successfully.

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