Scaffolding: Definition, Current Debates, and Future Directions



Instructional scaffolding can be defined as support provided by a teacher/parent, peer, or a computer- or a paper-based tool that allows students to meaningfully participate in and gain skill at a task that they would be unable to complete unaided. The metaphor of scaffolding has been applied to instruction in contexts ranging from literacy education to science education, and among individuals ranging from infants to graduate students. In this chapter, scaffolding is defined and its theoretical backing is explored. Then scaffolding strategies and examples are explored. Trends, findings, and implications of current empirical research are presented and discussed. Current debates in the scaffolding literature are explored, including whether (a) scaffolding needs to be based on dynamic assessment and fading, and (b) domain-specific knowledge needs to be embedded in scaffolding. Finally, future research directions are outlined, including transfer of responsibility, the interaction between teacher scaffolding and computer-based scaffolding, and other scaffolding aspects.


Instructional scaffolding Transfer of responsibility Non-scaffolding instructional support One-to-one scaffolding Computer-based scaffolding Peer scaffolding 



This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation early CAREER grant # 0953046. The views expressed herein represent those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

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