Teaching and Learning Resource Center

Scaffolding

Definition

The process of allowing students to practice certain components of a larger task or skill and to receive feedback on their progress through multiple, low-stakes assignments. Often it is helpful to scaffold large, summative assignments by breaking them up into smaller units of formative assessment spread out throughout the term. Scaffolding can also be an opportunity to practice a complex skill multiple times, beginning with a simple application and increasing in complexity with each future iteration. Example: Students receive feedback across the semester on an annotated bibliography, an abstract, one body paragraph, and a rough draft before submitting their final paper. Students receive feedback across the semester on setting up a specimen dish, identifying pre-made samples, and sampling a simple specimen before finally sampling a complex specimen.