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What are scaffolding techniques?

Supportive activities performed by teachers are known as scaffolding, helping pupils through the zone of proximal development
Supportive ballet teacher is sting down with student to show her how to properly do the tasks required

To successfully move through the zone of proximal development (ZPD), learners require:

  • The presence of someone who has mastered the desired skill, whether that is the teacher or a more advanced learner.
  • Social interactions with this skilful teacher or peer that allows the learner to observe and practice the new skills.
  • Supportive activities provided by the teacher or more advanced peer to give them the ‘boost’ they need to master the new skill.

These supportive activities performed by teachers or advanced peers are known as scaffolding.

Scaffolding techniques

Scaffolding can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Assess the learner’s existing knowledge of the new content.
  2. Draw explicit connections between the learner’s existing knowledge and the new content.
  3. Break the new content into small, manageable tasks with intermittent feedback.
  4. Guide learners’ progress individually with verbal hints, prompts, modelling, and examples.
  5. Reduce the amount of assistance offered to the learner as they gain competence (Silver, 2011; McLeod, 2019).

Scaffolding benefits

When scaffolding is applied appropriately, learners can enjoy the benefit of:

  • Feeling more motivated to learn
  • Feeling less frustrated
  • Learning faster
  • Having a more personalised and efficient learning experience (Mind Help, N.d.)
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