Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Scaffolding Learning

  • Elizabeth A. Davis
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_206-3

Definition of Scaffolding

Wood et al. (1976) were the first to use the term scaffolding. Within a tutoring context, Wood and colleagues described scaffolding as involving support such as reducing the degrees of freedom available to a learner, emphasizing relevant features of a task, and modeling solutions to a task. They demonstrated how, with this support, children were able to attain higher levels of performance than they could without the scaffolding. In essence, then, scaffolding works as a mediator within a learner’s zone of proximal development (Vygotsky 1978). Stone (1998) identified key features of face-to-face scaffolding interactions, including careful determination of the task, accurate diagnosis of the learner’s current level of proficiency and calibration of support to match that level, providing a range of types of support, and fading the support over time. Others have argued that scaffolding can be instantiated through physical artifacts or software features that serve...


Argumentation Calibration Fading Learning progressions Science learning Zone of proximal development 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA