What is Scaffolding
Allyson Skene and Sarah Fedko (Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto) define scaffolding as "structuring assignments and course material in a systemic way to support [...] learning objectives and make the goals and process transparent to students."
Why Scaffold Assignments?
Scaffolding assignments allows students to focus on discrete elements of the research process. Instead of having students write a final paper as the only deliverable, students work on each stage separately in order to build up to more difficult tasks. At the same time, faculty can guide wayward students back on track and provide feedback that leads to better student work.
How Can Faculty Use Scaffolding to Address Research Skills?
In Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, John Bean identifies seven research writing skills that can be difficult for students (2011 ed., pp 229-231; 2001 ed., pp 202-206). By breaking down the assignment into stages, faculty can help students build up to more complicated tasks and emphasize different skills at the point of need.
- How to Ask Discipline-Appropriate Research Questions
- How to Establish a Rhetorical Context (Audience, Genre, and Purpose)
- How to Find Sources
- Why to Find Sources
- How to Integrate Sources into the Paper
- How to Take Thoughtful Notes
- How to Cite and Document Sources
Example of a Scaffolded Assignment
|Stages of a Scaffolded Assignment||Possible Assignments for Each Stage|
|Evaluation of Sources||