Elevators Pitch on Scaffolding

Scaffolding is an approach that can be used to teaching for deeper learning. This is especially useful when an instructor wants to approach a problem from the whole task, but it is too complicate for the students to complete independently. In this case, the teacher introduces scaffolds so to problem enters the students’ zone of proximal development. With scaffolds, the problem is studied in the situation or context which gives it meaning and supports connections.  

Scaffolds can take many forms, depending on the nature of the problem, but can include processes or hints or approaches to deconstruct the problem. Reiser & Tabak (2014) suggest scaffolding allows: 

  • “Manage the process” so the steps can be the focus; 
  • “Reduce frustration” when learners encounter challenging situations and concepts;
  • “Focus on ignored parts” so that learners see how essential aspects of the phenomenon under study interact;
  • “Prompt reflection and explanation” which can promote metacognition.


Reiser, B., & Tabak, I. Scaffolding. In R K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Learning Science, (pp. 44-62). Cambridge University Press.