Scaffolding Assignments

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While one of the most researched and discussed aspects of teaching and ensuring student success, scaffolding is often overlooked in practice. Fortunately, this research repository provides an array of resources for improving the scaffolding in your courses.

As a term, “educational” or “instructional” scaffolding traces its roots back several decades. Those who used the concept early on proceeded to modify their definition as they became more influenced by ideas like Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development.” For an informative discussion of how this idea has changed and been applied over time, see Instructional Scaffolding: A Definitive Guide.

To gain a sense of the breadth of research and subsequent findings over the last decade, see A Meta-Analysis of Scaffolding Effects in Online Learning in Higher Education. Looking at online applications specifically from eight countries, the authors found that “scaffolding in an online learning environment has a large and statistically significant effect on learning outcomes.”

Finally, as you look to see how you might improve your use of scaffolding, there are several valuable points in Scaffolding Student Learning: Tips for Getting Started and How to Be a Better Online Teacher from our friends at Faculty Focus and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.