Scaffolding is a process used to help the child/learner master a concept or task; it enables the individual to reach higher levels of thinking (i.e. cognitive development) and helps to promote cognitive development throughout the life span. Zhao and Orey (1999) identifies two key rules to successful scaffolding; 1) to help the learner with those aspects of the task that the learner cannot manage on their own; 2) to allow the learner to do as much as he or she can without help (Zhao & Orey, 1999). Scaffolding is used in a very wide range of situations. Mothers naturally employ this approach as they teach their children how to live in and enjoy their world. Clay and Cazden (1992) identify two strategies used in scaffolding; 1) working with new knowledge and 2) accepting partially correct responses (Clay & Cazden, 1992). Teachers from Pre-K to Adult Education appreciate the necessity and increased learning afforded by the use of scaffolding techniques. Non-traditional educational settings, such as business training scenarios, also use scaffolding techniques to assure the success of their employees and leaders. Scaffolding is a very natural approach to ensuring cognitive development by working within the child’s “ZPD” (zone of proximal development), the area between what the child (learner) can do by himself and that which can be attained with the help of more knowledgeable adults or peers (Vygotsky, 1978). However, in order for scaffolding to be successful it’s important the teacher to understand the learners prior abilities and knowledge. It’s also important to know that since the ZPD is always changing as the learner develops more knowledge and skills, scaffolding techniques must be individualized. Another important component of scaffolding is “fading”; this is the gradual removal of scaffolding techniques as the child/learner becomes a more self-regulated and independent learner (Vygotsky, 1978). Scaffolding is a very useful tool for both...
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