Instructional Scaffolding in
Presentation by Melinda Jean Wilson and Gustavo Pina
What is Scaffolding?
Scaffolding is essentially breaking up the learning material into
smaller chunks along with providing a structure and/or technology
tool with each chunk to facilitate learning new concepts.
“Like training wheels, computer scaffolding enables learners to do
more advanced activities and to engage in more advanced thinking
and problem solving than they could without such help. “- NRC, 2000
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Scaffolding is like scaffolding in
Scaffolds provide temporary support for students to assist in learning
new, more complex tasks that learners may not be able to achieve on their
Scaffolding aligns with Objectives
Learning Objectives guide the use of scaffolding and what types
of scaffolding are used.
“The objective of the activity is made clear at the outset and a
"big-picture" point of view dominates in each individual
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Benefits of Scaffolding
Provides learning and discovery challenges for students.
Allows meaningful discussion and debate.
Motivates learners by teaching them how to learn.
Amplifies chances of student success in achieving objectives.
Presents opportunities for individualized instruction.
Engages learners in peer-to-peer teaching and learning.
Delivers a welcoming, supportive, and caring learning environment.
Cue Cards or Flash Cards
Cards to give to individuals or groups of students to start discussions about a
particular topic or content area.
Cards with vocabulary words or definitions of concepts.
Cards with content-specific stem sentences to complete.
Cards with formulas to solve problems.
Cards with qustions for students and groups to quiz each other
Illustrate with Concept Maps and Mind
Illustrate concepts and content with concept maps that show relationships.
Illustrate partially completed maps for students to complete.
Illustrate processes with Mind Maps.
Illustrate current knowledge of the task or concept by having students
create their own maps (Spectrum, 2008).
Explain more detailed information to advance students forward
on a task or in developing their critical thinking of a concept.
Explain with written instructions for a task.
Explain with verbal descriptions of how a process works
Give a Hand and Some Hints
Handout prepared documents that contain task and content related
Handout guides, but leave room for student creation or student notes.
Handout visual aids for learning the concept.
Hints to suggest direction and clues move students forward.
Hints to create a content scavenger hunt.
Hints for the steps to solve the problem (Spectrum, 2008).
Conceptual Guide in what to consider
Metacognitive Guide I ways to think
Procedural Guide in use of affordances
Strategic Guide in approaches
(Hannafin, Land, & Oliver, 1999, p. 123)
Launch New Ideas with Prior Knowledge
Launch new concepts with references to prior concepts.
Launch new concepts with prior knowledge as the framework.
Launch new concepts by relating previous experiences to new
Launch new concepts by showing transferrable skills that can
be used (Alber, 2011; Spectrum, 2008).
Prompt with physical movements such as pointing and nodding.
Prompt with words or statements.
Prompt with question stems for learners to complete and
Prompt with incomplete sentences for learners to finish.
Prompt with “what –If” questions (Spectrum, 2008).
Stories can relate complex and abstract material to situations
more familiar to students’ previous experiences.
Recite stories to inspire and motivate learners.
Start stories and have learners finish them.
Tell a story as an example of a concept or content information
Visually represent content
Visually represent content with graphs.
Visually represent content with pictures.
Visually represent content with charts.
Visual representations specifically assist children in
representing their ideas, organizing new information, and
grasping new concepts such as sequencing or cause and effect.
(Alber, 2011; Spectrum, 2008).
Software Tools for Scaffolding
Several software tools have been developed to prompt students to
reflect, articulate, and complete the steps of a complex task.
Examples of such software include ThinkerTools (White & Fredrickson, 1998)
Knowledge Integration Environment or KIE (Bell & Davis, 2000)
Progress Portfolio (Loh et al., 1998)
BGuILE (Reiser et al., 2001) and Model-It (Jackson, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1998)
Retrieved on 11/1/2013 from:
Alber, R. (May 24, 2011). “Six Scaffolding Strategies To Use With Your Students”
Hannafin, M., Land, S. & Oliver, K. (1999). Open learning environments: Foundations, methods, and models.
In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models (pp. 115-140), Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
McKenzie, J. (October, 2013) “Scaffolding and Sequencing” On the Cutting Edge. Retrieved on November
1, 2013 from: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/webdesign/Scaffolding/index.html
Spectrum Newsletter, Fall, 2008 “Instructional Scaffolding to Improve Learning” by Faculty Development and
Instructional Design Center, Northern Illinois University Retrieved November 1, 2013 from: