Teacher Scaffolding: An Exploration of Practice (Masters & Yelland)

Masters, J., & Yelland, N. (2002). Teacher scaffolding: An exploration of exemplary practice. Education and information Technologies, 7(4), 313–321.

“Scaffolding” first described by Wood et al. (1976) as “a process that enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts” (p.90).

Concept arose out of Vygotsky’s ideas that guided interactions with an adult or a more capable peer could assist children to develop at a higher level of operation. This support allowed the child to extend through the Zone of Proximal Development. When scaffolding is provided, a child may not only accomplish the task at a higher level, but also internalize the thinking, strategy or mechanisms used to be able to approach similar tasks (Rogoff, 2990).

Key characteristics of scaffolding (Beed et al, 1991):

  • Interaction must be collaborative, with the learner’s own intentions being the aim of the process (Searle, 1984)
  • Scaffolding must operate within the learner’s ZPD. Scaffolder must access the learner’s level of comprehension and then work slightly beyond that level, drawing the learning into new areas of exploration (Rogoff, 1990).
  • Scaffold is gradually withdrawn, as the learner becomes more competent.

Categories of scaffolding when learning with computers: (Yelland and Masters, 1999):

  • Cognitive — supporting children when constructing understanding
  • Affective — supporting children emotionally
  • Strategic — provide task management support
  • Technical — facilitates the operation of both the hardware and the software, in order for the students to focus on the learning aspects involved.
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