Teacher Scaffolding in Small-Group Work: An Intervention Study

  • van de Pol J
  • Volman M
  • Oort F
 et al. 
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Adapting support contingently to student needs by first diagnosing their
current understanding, that is, scaffolding, is considered a key aspect
of excellent teaching. The use of classroom scaffolding is rare,
however. We therefore investigated the benefits to teachers of a
professional development program that was based upon a model of
contingent teaching (MCT) with the following 4 steps: diagnostic
strategies, checking of diagnoses, giving contingent support, and
checking of student learning. In our experimental study, 17 of 30
teachers participated in this program. All of the teachers
(prevocational education; teaching social studies) taught the same
5-lesson project on the European Union. The frequency and quality of
their use of the 4 steps from the MCT were then compared. The teachers
who worked with the MCT increased their teaching quality more than the
teachers who did not participate, especially with regard to the steps of
contingent teaching. They also showed more complete cycles of contingent
teaching at postmeasurement than the other teachers. Less successful
teachers showed a tendency to provide less support because they
mistakenly thought that prompting was not part of scaffolding. Future
scaffolding research and professional development efforts aimed at
promoting scaffolding can benefit from the MCT, provided that teachers'
understanding of scaffolding is closely monitored.

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