The concept of scaffolding refers to temporary and adaptive support, originally in dyadic adult–child interaction. It has become widely used, also in whole‐class settings, but often in loose ways. The aim of this paper is to theoretically and empirically ground a conceptualisation of whole‐class scaffolding so that it remains close to the origin of the scaffolding concept, but also provides scope for features not salient in one‐to‐one interaction. Drawing an analogy with Vygotsky's concept of Zone of Proximal Development we argue why the extension to whole‐class settings is justified. We further distinguish three key characteristics for whole‐class scaffolding—diagnosis, responsiveness and handover to independence—and illustrate these with examples from a teaching experiment focusing on whole‐class scaffolding language in a multilingual mathematics classroom (age 10–12). The empirical data led to a metaphorical distinction between online and offline enactment of key characteristics, during respectively outside whole‐class interaction. Diagnoses can namely also be made outside lessons, for instance by reading pupils' work; responsiveness can also be realised in adapting instructional activities; and handover to independence can also be fostered in the design of lessons. In addition to this layered nature (online vs. offline), whole‐class scaffolding is often distributed over time. Finally, whole‐class scaffolding is cumulative with pupils' independence emerging as the cumulative effect of many diagnostic and responsive actions over time. We suggest these three features are at the core of whole‐class scaffolding that is deliberately employed to foster long‐term learning processes.
British Educational Research Journal – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2013
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