Many of us are not aware of the importance of scaffolding in education. When learning new skills, oftentimes, the best way to achieve mastery of those skills isn’t to dive in and figuring out on your own. Rather it’s best to have someone guide you through the process.
This is what scaffolding in education refers to – learning in steps with increasing difficulty as you go along, with each step building on the previous step to further cement that skill. So that eventually, the student won’t need the scaffolding anymore and can rely on themselves.
But why should you care about scaffolding in education? Here’s what you need to know about this important instructional technique.
Why Scaffolding is Key to Effective Education?
Some logic in support of scaffolding in the education system is shown in the following sections. Be attentive to find them easily while reading.
Supports a variety of learning styles & levels of understanding
Scaffolding adapts to students’ needs by acknowledging their different learning styles. Students can learn at a pace that’s right for them, ensuring no one falls behind.
Also, it ensures no one starts before they are ready and catches up to the students who are more advanced than they are. As a result, you can provide differentiated instruction based on individual needs while maintaining continuity within your lesson plan.
Builds on prior knowledge
A scaffold provides students with the necessary structure and support to build upon what they already know. Teachers can use scaffolds to present new ideas by supporting them with old ones that are familiar to the student.
In turn, this will provide a solid foundation for future learning as well as deep comprehension. The idea is that once the scaffold is removed, something sturdy will be left behind.
Increases student autonomy
Scaffolding gives students the tools to take ownership of their learning, including some measures of self-regulation. When you scaffold, you create a process that helps kids learn how to teach themselves.
The result is increased student autonomy and mastery of key academic skills necessary for success beyond school. These include cognitive skills like problem-solving and decision-making. It also supports skills such as goal setting and time management.
Boosts student understanding
Scaffolding can make difficult concepts accessible by breaking tasks into smaller steps to reduce the cognitive load on students.
Therefore, students can tackle challenges at their own pace without feeling like they’re getting stuck on something too hard. Moreover, it improves the retention rate for struggling students.
Encourages collaboration and social interaction
More than just memorizing facts and information, scaffolding provides students with hands-on opportunities to work collaboratively with other students, teaching them to rely on each other for success.
Collaborative learning also promotes valuable social skills like cooperation, communication, and empathy — all skills that go beyond the classroom walls and into our everyday lives.
Engages the learner throughout
Scaffolding allows for a more interactive and hands-on approach to learning. Also, it makes students feel included and supported. As a result, they won’t lose focus, get bored, or feel frustrated.
Allows for differentiation
Scaffolding is a great way to differentiate instruction. By providing students with materials that meet their needs and require less support, teachers can spend more time working with students who need more support and push them to higher levels of thinking.
Gives teacher insights into learner progress
Scaffolding allows teachers to have an intimate view of the progress and understanding of their students. This forces them to think critically about how they lead the classroom and individual lessons, allowing them to improve their teaching skills through self-reflection.
Promotes critical thinking skills
Critical thinking skills are essential for coming up with a solution when facing something new and difficult. Studies have shown that scaffolding (or offering students gentle guidance as they learn) leads to higher critical thinking skills.
When the students are presented with an idea, they can be helped to make connections, see patterns, and understand their work better by exploring their ideas before having the time pressure put on them.
Improves confidence and motivation
Students supported with scaffolding throughout a learning process are more confident in their abilities and more motivated to learn. This is because they experience success sooner than students who do not receive support.
Also, when student progress is matched with an appropriate level of challenge, it encourages them to keep going. However, if too much challenge is presented at once or too little challenge exists, motivation declines as student interest decrease over time.
3 Mistakes Teachers Make When Using Scaffolding Strategies
- Providing too much assistance. If a student doesn’t fully understand the concept, there is always the risk of giving him too much support for fear of getting behind on other work or missing something crucial. In this case, scaffolds become crutches rather than bridges.
- Starting with a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t consider students’ individual learning rates or how they experience materials differently.
- Teachers often incorrectly use scaffolding strategies. This happens when they don’t recognize the distinction between teaching strategies, designed to help students acquire new skills and understanding, and remediation strategies, designed to help learners who struggle with mastering specific skills or concepts.
4 Ways to Avoid Common Pitfalls
- Reinforce scaffolding instruction with hands-on demonstrations or one-on-one instruction, allowing students to practice actively.
- Continually review the basics before moving on so you can scaffold again if needed.
- If a student is struggling, provide support by asking them questions or providing hints until they are able to solve the problem.
- Once a student has demonstrated mastery of an instructional level, move them up levels. One way to do this is through chunking–breaking down large problems into smaller tasks that build on each other in difficulty.
I hope this post gives a sense of the importance of scaffolding and its many benefits to learners.
Scaffolding should not be taken lightly, but it’s also not something that should be considered an obstacle. It’s a tool you can use to help students understand their learning goals more easily, and it can help them to achieve those goals more efficiently.
If you’re curious about how scaffolding works in education or want to learn more about what kinds of scaffolding are best for different kinds of students, we’d love to hear your thoughts!