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Vygotsky and Scaffolded Instruction

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What is scaffolded instruction? Are there scaffolding guidelines? Include a definition and thirteen suggested elements of scaffolded instruction. Thank you.

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Solution Summary

This solution defines scaffolding as proposed by Vygotsky, and then discusses thirteen suggested elements of scaffolded instruction to use as instruction guidelines. 12 sources are listed.

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The concept of scaffolding (Bruner, 1975) is based on the work of Vygotsky, who proposed that with an adult's assistance, children could accomplish tasks that they ordinarily could not perform independently. Scaffolded instruction is "the systematic sequencing of prompted content, materials, tasks, and teacher and peer support to optimize learning" (Dickson, Chard, & Simmons, 1993.)

Scaffolding is a process in which students are given support until they can apply new skills and strategies independently (Rosenshine & Meister, 1992). When students are learning new or difficult tasks, they are given more assistance. As they begin to demonstrate task mastery, the assistance or support is decreased gradually in order to shift the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the students. Thus, as the students assume more responsibility for their learning, the teacher provides less support.

For example, a young child or a child with physical disabilities likely would need assistance when learning how to use a playground slide (Dixon, 1994). At first an adult might carry the child up the steps and slide with the child several times. Then some of the scaffolding or support would be removed when the adult placed the child on the lower portion of the slide and allowed him or her to slide with little guidance. The adult would continue to remove the scaffolding as the child demonstrated that he or she could slide longer distances successfully without support (Larkin, 2002).


Scaffolding is one of the principles of effective instruction that enables teachers to accommodate individual student needs (Kame'enui, Carnine, Dixon, Simmons, & Coyne, 2002).

Hogan and Pressley (1997) summarized the literature to identify eight essential elements of scaffolded instruction that teachers ...

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