What Is Scaffolding Instruction?

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  • 0:03 Scaffolding
  • 0:46 Providing Support
  • 2:02 An Example
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Scaffolding instruction is an incredibly important technique to use when teaching. This lesson will introduce you to scaffolding and provide some examples to give a clear picture of this technique at work.


Visualize a building in the process of being built. As construction workers add to their work, they often use support systems that will later be taken down as the building becomes more stable. These supports are commonly known as scaffolds or scaffolding.

In construction, scaffolding is used in the process of building something in order to support the pieces that aren't yet firmly in place. In education, scaffolding instruction is used in much the same way. Like constructing a building, conveying information to your students is never done all at once and without support. Scaffolding instruction techniques allow teachers to present information to their students piece by piece, building with each lesson upon a lesson already learned.

Providing Support

The main purpose of scaffolding instruction is to break information up into chunks of information that can be more easily learned. Doing so allows instructors to naturally support their students' absorption of the information. With scaffolding instruction, students are able to master skills or ideas that are required for further learning of a certain concept.

Breaking up large lessons into smaller bits allows you as the teacher to see which students are having trouble and with which concepts. If a student is struggling on a particular chunk of new information, an instructor may briefly backtrack to make sure the student has a proper grasp on relevant background information (i.e., their scaffolding). Whether by reviewing a lesson chunk with the whole class or by providing an individual with tools to better understand the information, teachers have the opportunity to provide more support to students not yet ready to move on to the next building block of the larger lesson.

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