, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 33-52

Scaffolding practices that enhance mathematics learning

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Abstract

It is over 25 years since Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 89–100) introduced the idea of ‘scaffolding’ to represent the way children’s learning can be supported. Despite problems, this metaphor has enduring attraction in the way it emphasises the intent to support a sound foundation with increasing independence for the learner as understanding becomes more secure. It has resonance with the widely accepted notion in teaching of construction and the constructivist paradigm for learning. The discussion that follows will characterise some teaching approaches that can be identified as scaffolding, revisiting some of the original classifications, and identifying further scaffolding strategies with particular reference to mathematics learning. Examples will be given from studies relating to geometry learning with four to 6 year olds and to arithmetic learning with older pupils.