Scaffolding in Education: Definition, Theory & Examples

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  • 0:04 Definition and Theory
  • 0:39 General Process
  • 1:40 Scaffolding Lesson Example
  • 2:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
This lesson defines scaffolding in education and examines how it's used in the learning process. Learn about the theory behind scaffolding and the origins of the term, then test your knowledge with a brief quiz.

Definition and Theory

In the field of education, the term scaffolding refers to a process in which teachers model or demonstrate how to solve a problem, and then step back, offering support as needed. Psychologist and instructional designer Jerome Bruner first used the term 'scaffolding' in this context back in the 1960s. The theory is that when students are given the support they need while learning something new, they stand a better chance of using that knowledge independently. Bruner recommends positive interaction and three modes of representation during teaching: actions, images, and language.

General Process

First, a teacher begins teaching at the level the students can understand, and then she builds on that understanding. She then presents the problem and thinks aloud as she goes about solving it. In the process, she shows how a solution is arrived at by combining actions, images, and language. She then does the following:

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