Vygotsky Scaffolding (A Comprehensive Guide)

In this article we will discuss Vygotsky scaffolding.

Zone of proximal development and vygotsky scaffolding and other concepts related to them are methods of teaching which are helpful for students in learning and gaining more knowledge rapidly as compared to other traditional styles of teaching. 

Nevertheless, vygotsky scaffolding if implemented properly is the most efficient and effective style. If not implemented properly it may cause students to face problems in learning.

Vygotsky scaffolding is also referred to as instructional scaffolding and one may call it just scaffolding.

This is the style of teaching students which is helpful for them to be able to become quick learners by working in close relation to their teachers or other students in order to attain their goals of learning.

The vygotsky scaffolding is based on the idea that students are more able to gain knowledge quickly while working with those who have equipped themselves with in depth knowledge and skill sets of wide range as compared to learning independently.

Such students or teachers are known as scaffolding who assist their students in expanding their potential of learning as compared to learning independently. 

Vygotsky scaffolding is connected to a concept related to education which is known as zone of proximal development.

Zone of proximal development offers a wide range of skill sets and knowledge to students which they are not able to get on their own but by seeking guidance and instruction from a person who is more skilful than them can be helpful.

This refers to the skill set which is above the current skill level of the student. 

Zone of proximal development is usually referred to as the sequence of circles with the same center.

Slightest circle in the series denotes the skill set of a student which he is able to learn independently without seeking any guidance.

Up next in the series is the zone of proximal development which denotes the skill sets of a student which cannot be achieved by him without seeking any help, but an instructor, tutor or a student can help then to achieve this.

Past this zone of proximal development are those skill sets which a student isn’t able to acquire yet even with help of others. 

For instance, a kindergarten student is just getting to learn how to write and read.

This student is aware of the alphabets and is yet unable to read and write anything.

This does not matter how much instructions he has received. He won’t be able to read a book by himself at this stage.

But a teacher or an instructor can help him in reading and writing smaller words such as, it, is, red, dot because these skills fall under his zone of proximal development.

Otherwise, this may be such a lengthy process of learning these skills by himself alone, but this is much simpler enough that he is able to learn this if there is a person who can assist him and explain this all to him.

The zone of proximal development of a student is writing short words and reading them and the person or an instructor who is helping him learn these skills is scaffolding. 

The advocates of the zone of proximal development and vygotsky scaffolding be of the opinion that these are the most efficient and effective methods of increasing the learning of a student.

The phenomenon of scaffolding is helpful for anyone at any stage of his life to learn new skills, but in the environment of class this is mostly applied on the students of early ages such as elementary level or preschool level students.

As they are in the process of getting fresh ideas and knowledge which they had never heard of before usually. 

Historical Background of Vygotsky Scaffolding:

A Soviet psychologist named Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) presented the idea of a zone of proximal development.

He conducted a lot of research which led to instructional scaffolding. This is the reason for referring to this as vygotsky scaffolding. 

The focus of Vygotsky’s most of the work was on developmental psychology.

At the finishing line of his career Vygostky’s developed the idea of a zone of proximal development in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The idea of Vygotsky was that the tutors must assist their students to gain knowledge within their zone of proximal development, thus this will help them in maximizing their potential and skill set without any frustration by those things which they think to be extremely difficult to understand for them. 

Vygotsky put forward his concept of the zone of proximal development in an extensive study about the learning process of the young students and how different teaching methods can be effective in helping them.

He concluded that the tests conducted on the basis of knowledge of an individual are mostly not accurate plans for determining the intelligence of a young student as the student needs to communicate with other people who they think are more intelligent as compared to their own current level of learning.

Vygostky presented various examples of the culture in which students learn their new skoll sets which are inherited by them from their elders.

Take an example of an infant who is just learning to walk. He will begin this mostly by gripping the hands or clothes of an elder person who is able to guide them.

He will continue doing this exercise till he has sufficient strength and knowledge to walk on his own.

By doing this he will be able to walk fast as compared to a situation in which he anticipated to learn walking without the help of other people around him. 

The idea of Vygotsky was that an adequate method to test the intelligence of a child was to test how they can solve problems being independent and by seeking the assistance of their elders. 

The work of Vygotsky was revived in the 1960s by emerging psychologists who studied developmental psychology.

Dr. Jerome Bruner also presented a term named as scaffolding and he associated this with the work of Vygotsky.

Dr. Jerome and his contemporary psychologists started to study the applications of the zone of proximal development in various educational backgrounds and they concluded that to encourage the children to confront the challenging issues inside their zone of proximal development will enable them to learn efficiently. 

Does Vygotsky Scaffolding Work?

In recent years a lot of research has been done to know how much the scaffolding and zone of proximal development are effective as the methods of teaching.

Most of the researches showed that such techniques are mostly effective for the children to be able to learn as much as they could have learnt through traditional styles of teaching.

But it requires the teacher to have a greater command of the zone of proximal development of the student so the teacher is able to embrace the teaching techniques to him. 

A study conducted in 1975 revealed that children of an age group of four who used to interact with their mothers and got the advice from them did significantly well in building more complicated block towers as compared to other children who were working independently.

It was observed that those children whose mothers’ embraced methods which based on the abilities of their child to accomplish the tasks, their children were more successful.

The mothers made various remarks on the basis of if their children were doing good or they were struggling.

A study conducted in 1990 showed results similar to these when children were told to set the furniture of a dollhouse in the right place.

Those children were seen more successful whose mother gave them advice and guided them well.

As compared to those children who accomplished their work independently.

Using Vygotsky Scaffolding in Classroom Settings.

The above discussed studies have shown that Vygotsky Scaffolding is more productive teaching methods but only in case if the teacher knows how to implement it.

Following are given some strategies to use Vygotsky Scaffolding in the classroom.

Know each student’s ZPD

To implement the Vygotsky Scaffolding and zone of proximal development effectively, it is important to understand the current level of knowledge of a student.

Not having this knowledge a teacher will not be able to instruct students within their zone of proximal development to give enough guidance.

Prior to the start of course using a zone of proximal development or Vygotsky Scaffolding it is important to know the basis of knowledge by providing them with shorter quizzes or giving them introductory lessons about topics in which students are asked questions to know about their prior knowledge.

Encourage Group Work

Vygotsky scaffolding method can be a very effective style in group working by using the principles of scaffolding in a class environment.

This Is helpful for students to benefit from the knowledge of their counterparts when working collaboratively.

Students with good skills can be helpful for their colleagues as well as for their own to improve their expertise and explain their thinking patterns.

Students with various skills can be accommodated in different groups in order to increase their learning.

Don’t Offer Too Much Help

Vygotsky scaffolding can be disadvantageous potentially if the students are provided with too much assistance.

This will make them to be inactive rather than being active learners and minimise the quantity of learnings of students.

If someone is implementing the Vygotsky Scaffolding method, he should avoid reaching out by giving advice immediately.

Students should be free to start their work independently.

If the student is struggling one should ask them about what they did and what they should do next.

Open ended questions should be asked to a possible extent which is encouraging then to reach to a solution independently in contrast to giving them immediate advice.

Have Students Think Aloud

To let the student discuss what they think is a viable alternative to know where they stand regarding their skill set.

This will help teachers to understand where they stand in their zone of proximal development and will help them make sure that students are learning actively.

A teacher should talk to a student while he is working on a project about why he is making such decisions and what should be his next move.

While giving advice to students it should be made sure that the teacher must communicate what he thinks so that the student is able to comprehend why the teacher made this decision.

FAQs about Vygotsky Scaffolding

What is Vygotsky Scaffolding?

Zone of proximal development and vygotsky scaffolding and other concepts related to them are methods of teaching which are helpful for students in learning and gaining more knowledge rapidly as compared to other traditional styles of teaching.

What is the theory of scaffolding?

This is a process which includes teaching methods of letting the students to solve problems and stay back when done and being always there for students when they need.

What is the difference between scaffolding and zone of proximal development?

Zone of proximal development refers to tasks which a student cannot do independently and can do well with the help of teachers.
While scaffolding is linked with the zone of proximal development directly.

What are the types of scaffold?

There are three following types of scaffold;