Sample Research Proposal #1
(used with permission)
Study of Contingent Scaffolding and Higher Order Thinking Strategies
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Education Specialist
In the Graduate School of the
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
College of Education
Donna C. Dayer, B.S., M.Ed.
Contingent Scaffolding and Higher Order Thinking
The United States Department of Education is searching for research on basic and higher order thinking skills and their links to improve student learning and higher academic achievement (“Education Department Announces New Grant,” 2002). The research described in this report contends that with the right amount of support, and by keeping the task at a manageable challenge, the learner’s cognitive thinking will be lifted to a higher level (Wood, 2003). To begin, the goal of the task must be identified and the tutor needs to have some understanding of what background knowledge the child brings to the task (Wood, 2003). The child then needs to initiate a plan of action for solving the problem. This could be monitoring, searching or making an attempt to solve the problem.
If the child’s attemp t works and the problem is solved, then the learner moves on to the next step. If it doesn’t work, the teacher moves in to scaffold the learner, and the learner makes another try using the mental tools she has available to her (Wood, 2003). The scale of help provided by the tutor is contingent on the needs of the learner; if the learner is not making progress toward solving the problem with a low level of help the tutor increases the scaffolding. As the learner succeeds, the tutor fades the amount of help or increases the challenge. In this way the tutor gives less help with each step that gets the learner closer to completing the task alone. Contingent scaffolding insures that the
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