Rachel R. Van Der Stuyf
Adolescent Learning and Development
Section 0500A - Fall 2002
November 17, 2002
I. Scaffolding as a Teaching Strategy – Definition and Description
Scaffolding instruction as a teaching strategy originates from Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and his concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD). “The zone of proximal development is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance” (Raymond, 2000, p.176). The scaffolding teaching strategy provides individualized support based on the learner’s ZPD (Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2002). In scaffolding instruction a more knowledgeable other provides scaffolds or supports to facilitate the learner’s development. The scaffolds facilitate a student’s ability to build on prior knowledge and internalize new information. The activities provided in scaffolding instruction are just beyond the level of what the learner can do alone (Olson & Pratt, 2000). The more capable other provides the scaffolds so that the learner can accomplish (with assistance) the tasks that he or she could otherwise not complete, thus helping the learner through the ZPD (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). Vygotsky defined scaffolding instruction as the “role of teachers and others in supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level” (Raymond, 2000, p. 176). An important aspect of scaffolding instruction is that the scaffolds are temporary. As the learner’s abilities increase the scaffolding provided by the more knowledgeable other is progressively withdrawn. Finally the learner is able to complete the task or master the concepts independently (Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2002, p. 7). Therefore the goal of the educator when using the scaffolding teaching strategy is for the student to become an independent and...