Jerome Bruner: Scaffolding and Constructivism Theories

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: John Bowlby: Theory & Biography

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Jerome Bruner
  • 0:26 Scaffolding Theory
  • 1:18 Constructivism
  • 2:33 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out who Jerome Bruner is, and his role in identifying theories of scaffolding and constructivism. Read the lesson, then take a brief quiz to test your new knowledge about education theories.

Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner was a psychologist noted for his contributions in the field of educational psychology. Born in 1915, Bruner held psychology chairs at Harvard University and at the University of Cambridge. Bruner was influenced by the work of Lev Vygotsky, who shared Bruner's belief that a child's social environment and social interactions are key elements of the learning process. Bruner died in 2016.

Scaffolding Theory

Bruner's studies on learning led to his research and ultimate development of the famous scaffolding theory in education, which identifies the importance of providing students with enough support in the initial stages of learning a new subject.

A 'scaffold' ensures that children aren't left to their own devices to understand something. The support, or scaffold, is removed when the student is ready, like the scaffolding that supports workers who've been constructing or repairing a building, which is removed when the construction is complete.

For instance, if a student is learning a new concept in an algebra class, he or she might observe it being done step-by-step by a more advanced peer in a small group or by a teacher. This support is the 'scaffold' he needs temporarily. Each step is demonstrated and explained, and then the student tries it on his or her own, without the scaffold.


Bruner's theory of constructivism holds that students should be active in the learning process. Such experiential learning allows learners to better process their newfound knowledge and skills. Constructivism is also based on the idea that students construct their learning on past knowledge, and that reasoning plays an important role in the learning process.

Approaches to constructivist teaching vary, but Bruner's idea of a constructivist approach is called the spiral curriculum, which involves students building on their existing knowledge. The 'spiral' is a process that begins with presenting students with a foundation of various topics early on and then touching on these subjects more deeply throughout a student's school years.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account