Scaffolding Definition Psychology: Theory and Method

Scaffolding Definition Psychology

Before discussing more about scaffolding definition psychology, it’s good we know first about scaffolding education.

In the field of education, the term scaffolding refers to a process in which teachers model or demonstrate how to solve a problem, and then step back, offering support as needed. The theory is that when students are given the support they need while learning something new, they stand a better chance of using that knowledge independently. Bruner recommends positive interaction and three modes of representation during teaching: actions, images, and language.

In education, scaffolding definition psychology refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process.

One of the main goals of scaffolding psychology is to reduce the negative emotions and self-perceptions that students may experience when they get frustrated, intimidated, or discouraged when attempting a difficult task without the assistance, direction, or understanding they need to complete it.

Scaffolding Psychology Method Learning

Making suggestions. If a child is having trouble completing a project, an educator could make a variety of suggestions that might help solve the problem, while encouraging the child to problem solve on their own. For example, “That block tower keeps falling down. One way we could fix it is by putting all the bigger blocks on the bottom. What other ways do you think we could help it stay up?”

Asking probing questions to encourage a child to come up with an answer independently.

  • Using demonstrations. In the block tower example above, an educator who is scaffolding could make their own smaller version of a block tower to demonstrate how the blocks work best.
  • Introducing a prop. Additionally, the teacher could encourage the child to use different resources to help the block tower stay up and think out of the box by coming up with a creative solution. “What do you see in our classroom that would help support our block tower? Maybe if we turn that pencil holder upside down, that could help. Can you think of anything else?”
  • Posing limited-answer questions. If a child is having trouble coming up with an answer to a question on their own, a teacher who’s scaffolding can provide multiple answers to choose from in order to help the child come up with a correct response independently.
  • Providing support. When a task is proving tough, the teacher could help a child think through alternatives. Or get a child off on the right foot by discussing the steps needed to complete a task.

What is Vygotsky Scaffolding?

Vygotsky stated that a child follows an adult’s example and gradually develops the ability to do certain tasks without help or assistance. Vygotsky scaffolding definition as the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.

Scaffolding is a process through which a teacher or more competent peer gives aid to the student in her/his ZPD as necessary, and tapers off this aid as it becomes unnecessary, much as a scaffold is removed from a building during construction.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Scaffolding Learning

  • Curriculum–Since children learn much through interaction, curricula should be designed to emphasize interaction between learners and learning tasks.
  • Instruction–With appropriate adult help, children can often perform tasks that they are incapable of completing on their own. With this in mind, scaffolding–where the adult continually adjusts the level of his or her help in response to the child’s level of performance–is an effective form of teaching. Scaffolding not only produces immediate results, but also instills the skills necessary for independent problem solving in the future.
  • Assessment–Assessment methods must take into account the zone of proximal development. What children can do on their own is their level of actual development and what they can do with help is their level of potential development. Two children might have the same level of actual development, but given the appropriate help from an adult, one might be able to solve many more problems than the other. Assessment methods must target both the level of actual development and the level of potential development.