Theory of Scaffolding

Topics: Learning, Knowledge, Instructional scaffolding Pages: 35 (12933 words) Published: December 12, 2013
Theory of Scaffolding
Literature around Scaffolding:

There have been several discussions around scaffolding, in an attempt to define what it means for education. At the early stages of the theory of scaffolding, Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) explain the importance of the interactive, instructional relationship that tutors/teachershave in a learner's development, supporting that the attendance of others is significant for scaffolding skills acquisition and problem solving. They also emphasize on the importance for realizing the value of a solution to generate the sequence of steps that will lead to the solution of the problem, without scaffolding by an adult. As argued, this realization will result in effective feedback, as the learner will be able to value every step towards the solution, and therefore, in order for scaffolding to be effective the learner needs to generate solutions to the problem that are identifiable to them (Wood, Bruner, and Ross, 1976). However, in this scaffolding process, the tutor does not necessarily need to be a human; it can be a virtual, non-player character (NPC) as well. In this project, the scaffolding process takes place in the virtual environment of Quest Atlantis, where learners embark on a mission to resolve a problem, part of which requires the decryption of Mayan signs, and interpretation of them in English. The facilitators in this case are the NPCs that learners/players come across during their mission.

A rich experience is what a leaner needs to develop to a knowledgeable individual, and the impact of the surrounding environment and the scaffolds in it are important for learning. Vygotsky (1978) has proposed that the learner needs to be scaffolded in order to acquire all the skills that would have been difficult to acquire independently. The Vygotskian theoretical perspective holds that learners, and especially children can perform more challenging tasks when assisted, and that they can reach a high level of development (Zone of Proximal Development). According to Vygotsky, there are two aspects of learning development; the "actual development" and the "potential development" (Vygotsky, 1978). The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is the "distance between the actual development level, as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development, as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). Further, based on Vygotsky's theory, the ZPD can also be defined as the area between what the learners can achieve by themselves, and what they can attain with the help of more knowledgeable individuals (Video 1). Therefore, meaningful learning is being enhanced in the learner's ZPD, with the use of all the available scaffolds afforded by the surrounding environment. Scaffolds in the case of the virtual geocaching project are considered to be the mission page, NPCs, boxes with information, scrolls with information, translation tool, etc. Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding

Video 1: A video about the Zone of Proximal Development and  Scaffolding, describing how the process works and enhances learning.

Pea, in his commentary paper (2004, p. 431) discussed the role of "fading" in the scaffolding process, characterizing it as "intrinsic" to the scaffolding process. A scaffold used for the learner must be gradually removed during the learning process, until it is completely gone, and when the learner has reached the learning goal (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989). It is argued that, if the learning help is not being gradually removed, then the process is not called scaffolding anymore, but distributed intelligence, namely, intelligence that is a collective product, and where the individual does not internalize learning (Pea, 2004). Over time, there have been numerous software tools created to scaffold meaningful learning experiences, in and out of schools. Scaffolding is an...

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Larkin, M. (2002). Using scaffolded instruction to optimize learning. Arlington, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (Retrieved September 25, 2007 from ERIC at EBSCOhost, ERIC No. ED. 474 301).
Verenikina, I. (1998). Understanding scaffolding and the ZPD in educational research. Retrieved March 12, 2004 from
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Zhao, R., & Orey, M. (1999). The scaffolding process: Concepts, features, and empirical studies. Unpublished manuscript. University of Georgia.
November 17, 1896
Orsha, Russian Empire, now inBelarus
June 11, 1934 (aged 37)
Scientific legacy
Vygotsky was a pioneering psychologist and his major works span six separate volumes, written over roughly 10 years, fromPsychology of Art (1925) to Thought and Language [or Thinking and Speech] (1934)
"Instrumental" period (1920s)
Cultural mediation and internalization
The period of crisis, criticism, and self-criticism (1929-1931)
In 1930s Vygotsky was engaged in massive reconstruction of his theory of his "instrumental" period of 1920s
"Holistic" period (1931-1934)
The period of major revision of Vygotsky 's theory and its transition from mechanist orientation of his 1920s to integrative holistic science of 1930s
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