Scaffolding Strategies for Enhancing Reading: A Survey of Literature
Jul 22, 2010 Reading 12863 Views
Enhancing students' reading is one of the major concerns in the field of teaching. There are different strategies that teachers can follow in order to support and encourage students to read properly as well as developing their critical thinking. Among those strategies is scaffolding. Many studies have shed the light on the use of scaffolded instruction in the classroom. The present paper seeks to survey the literature in order to reflect on the following questions: What is scaffolding? What kinds of scaffolding strategies can teachers use to encourage students to read properly? How is scaffolding proved to be an effective strategy? Several definitions of scaffolding will be given. Next, the theory behind scaffolding will be highlighted. Finally, a review of related literature, starting from 1991 to a more recent research in 2008, will be demonstrated.
What is Scaffolding?
In teaching, the term scaffold is considered as a supporting framework that a teacher can provide to his/her students in order to enhance their learning process. In 1976, Donald Wood and his colleagues were the first to use scaffolding in its educational sense. They defined it as "a process that enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task, or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts" (Wood et al., 1976, p. 90). Larkin (2002) explained scaffolding as "when students are learning new or difficult tasks, they are given more assistance. As they begin to demonstrate task mastery, the assistance or support is decreased gradually in order to shift the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the students. Thus, as the students assume more responsibility for their learning, the teacher provides less support" (p.2). Another definition was provided by Raymond (2000) as "role of teachers and others in supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level".
The Theory behind Scaffolding
The term scaffolding was generated from Vygotsky's concept of "the Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD). Vygotsky (1978) proposed the existence of the ZPD which he defined as "the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" (p. 86). In the words of Hobsbaum and et al. (1996, p.17), the ZPD is "the distance between the child's observed developmental level and the level of his/her potential development given guidance in collaboration with an adult or peer." That is, when adults provide assistance and support to children [learners] in a certain task, children will gradually be able to do it by themselves later on without help. Jaramillo (1996) says in this respect, "teachers activate this zone when they teach students concepts that are just above their current skills and knowledge level, which motivates them to excel beyond their current skills level" ( p. 138). Vygotsky (1978) anticipated that directed interactions with adults have a high effect on children's cognitive functions.
Review of Related Literature
In order to illustrate a kind of scaffolding called Contingent Scaffolded Instruction and view how it works, Beed and others (1991) carried a qualitative study in a class of children in which they had selected exemplary dialogues from two reading situations. They observed a specific student while he was interacting with his teacher in the reading process. The levels of this kind of scaffolding start from the teacher modeling, inviting student performance, cueing specific elements, cueing specific strategies, and providing general cues ( Beed et al., 1991).
The teacher reduces the amount of support over time after following those levels to allow the student carries on application of a strategy independently.
The study showed that the interactions between the teacher and the student were successful in moving the student toward reading independently (Beed et al., 1991). One limitation to the study is that it was carried out with one individual student. The results would be more reliable if the Contingent Scaffolded Instruction was examined with the whole class in order to prove that the teacher can move each student in the class toward reading independently on matter what size of the class was.
In another qualitative research by Roseshine and Meister (1992), the question of "how does one teach cognitive strategies while reading?" was addressed. The focus of the investigation was based on a review of about 50 studies in which students ranging from 3rd grade through college were taught cognitive strategies showed that successful teachers of such strategies very often use instructional procedures called scaffolds. It hypothesized that in order to facilitate reading comprehension, students may be taught to use cognitive strategies such as generating questions about their reading. To generate questions, students need to search the text and combine information, which in turn helps them to comprehend what they read (Roseshine & Meister, 1992).
In many of the studies, instructions on cognitive strategy began with the teacher completing most or all of the tasks through modeling, thinking aloud and cue cards that contain the concrete prompts. As student involvement increased, teacher involvement was withdrawn. Teachers provided hints, prompts, suggestions and feedback when students encountered a difficulty in their attempts to complete a part of the task. (Roseshine & Meister, 1992).
The results of the studies in Roseshine and Meister (1992) have proved that scaffolds and the procedures for using them provide teachers with many ways to think about how to help students learn cognitive studies. Such concepts as modeling, thinking aloud, using cue cards, anticipating errors, and providing expert models can also be applied to the teaching of well-structured skills.
Another research for the effectiveness of scaffolding in enhancing reading is a longitudinal study (Hobsbaum, Peters & Sylva, 1996) was carried out in different schools in London and the South of England of 17 children in Reading Recovery and seven Reading Recovery teachers working. Hobsbaum et al (1996, p. 17) explained Reading Recovery as "a one-to-one intervention for children having difficulty reading after one year at school. It consists of daily half-hour lessons taught by a teacher trained to diagnose and support children's problem-solving approach to reading." In the study, all the children were observed once at the beginning and once towards the end of their program. In addition, four children were observed on a weekly basis throughout their program.
The results showed that "the interaction between child, teacher and text operationalizes connective knowledge, as opportunities present themselves, and illustrates how, over time, scaffolded interventions yield child independence" (Hobsbaum et al., 1996, p. 32). However, the study leaves an open issue, perhaps for a future research, which is- even though scaffolding has proved to be a supportive tool in a one-to-one reading intervention, is it going to prove to be useful in ordinary classroom teaching?
Another research article (Graves, Graves & Braaten, 1996) that provides an approach designed as an attempt to lead children to success in their reading, whether they are struggling readers, average readers, or above average readers is the Scaffolded Reading Experience. The focus of their investigation was on a hypothetical group of 6th graders who are reading a relatively short, well-crafted novel by Patricia MacLachlan called Baby. They found that the approach is particularly appropriate for inclusive classrooms, and in their researcher article, they explained how this approach works not only within a homogeneous class of students but with a classroom that has different levels of reading proficiency. In the Scaffolded Reading Experience, the teacher begins by considering three interrelated factors which are the students, their purpose of reading, and the text to be read. Accordingly, the teacher carefully selects a set of activities that will help these students achieve their particular reading goals. The teacher designs specific activities for each three phases of the reading experience; pre-reading, during-reading and post-reading.
In their conclusion of this article, Graves, Graves and Braaten, (1996) found that this approach is a practical way to guide youngsters to that goal whether they are in an inclusive class, a tracked class or a special class (Graves et al., 1996). One limitation to this research article, in my opinion, is that their data of the study is abstract. It did not take place in a real classroom; it was a hypothetical classroom.
In another article, Larkin (2002) explains how scaffolded instruction can optimize students' learning by reviewing a qualitative study by Larkin (2001) in which she observed and interviewed some teachers who used scaffolded instruction in order to help their students become independent learners. In the results, she found that those teachers on regular bases united several factors of scaffolding into instruction which proved to be helpful such as the following: (a) start with what the students can do, (b) encourage students accomplish success quickly, (c) encourage students to be like everyone else, (d) know when it is time to stop, and (c) help students to be independent when they have control of the activity (Larkin, 2002).
In her article, she (2002) also provided some frameworks for incorporating scaffolding throughout the lesson that teachers may use which are outlined by Ellis & Larkin (1998): First, the teacher does it. Second, the class does it. Third, the group does it. Fourth, the individual does it. Outlining the factors of scaffolding and the frameworks for incorporating scaffolding, I believe made her article easy and clear to follow.
Moreover, in order to develop a deeper understanding of the various ways of scaffolding, Clark and Graves (2005) provided selected examples and descriptions of three forms that scaffolding can take. The first form of scaffolding is moment-to-moment verbal scaffolding, instructional frameworks that foster content learning and instructional procedures for teaching reading comprehension strategies. In the first form of scaffolding, Clark and Graves (2005) provided an example of one of the teachers they had observed using it with her first-grade students as they worked to understand the meaning when reading Ruth Krauss's The Carrot Seed. The teacher observed and promoted her students' thought process and reinforced their understanding as they continue reading the text.
Another example of one-to-one scaffolding was used by a teacher with her first graders in which she scaffolded her students to read Tomie dePaola's The Popcorn Book using a procedure called interactive read-aloud. The teacher reads the text aloud, and then she and several students comment on the text. In the second form of scaffolding, instructional frameworks that foster content learning, the teacher's role is to structure the reading experience using Questioning the Author and The Scaffolded Reading Experience so that students can optimally benefit from it. The third form of scaffolding is the instructional procedures for teaching reading comprehension strategies. It helps students to read independently using two approaches; Direct Explanation of Comprehension Strategies in which teachers teach individual strategies explicitly and directly (Duffy, 2002; Duffy et al, 1987), and the second approach is Reciprocal Teaching which is used to teach four comprehension strategies- questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting (Palincsar & Brown 1989). Using those forms of strategies have proved to be helpful for students to complete tasks they could not complete with less stress or no stress in time (Clark & Graves, 2005). One limitation to this research article is that it contained a lot of abbreviations that sometimes it was hard to tell what each referred to.
Moreover, in n a recent qualitative research by Reutzel and others (2008), a comparison between the Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) and the Scaffolded Silent Reading (ScSR) was drawn. The teachers of the 3rd graders in GreenValleyElementary School were stopped from using the (SSR). It was criticized of no guide for teachers in choosing appropriate texts for the students to read; there is a very little or no interaction between the teacher and students; no control on the reading time and no feedback from the teacher on the students' reading quality. The teachers then redesigned another approach called Scaffolded Silent Reading (ScSR) in which students are provided with guidance, support, structure and controlling in order for them to develop their silent reading practice.
The findings showed that (ScSR) provided 3rd grade teachers an improved way for practicing reading with limited number of errors and high rates of reading comprehension strategies (Reutzel et al., 2008). This research article is well-written. It began by giving a description of Mrs. Taverski's class, her colleagues and the principal at GreenValleyElementary School; how they used the Sustaiend Silent Reading and then how they adopted another way of silent reading which was the Scaffolded Silent Reading. This made the article enjoyable to read. Also, the comparison between the two approaches with the examples was clear to be understood.
To sum up, scaffolding is seen as a process in which students are given support until they can acquire new skills and strategies and continue independently (Rosenshine & Meister, 1992). In order for teachers to help students read properly and independently, the review of the related literature has demonstrated different tools of scaffolding that teachers can use to enhance reading comprehension such as prompts, hints, models, cues, partial solutions, direct instruction and think-aloud tasks. It has been stated clearly ( Beed et al., 1991; Hobsbaum et al., 1996; Roseshine & Meister, 1992; Larkin, 2002) that the interaction between teachers and students has a significant impact on the success of the students in helping them read independently. In order to scaffold students during the learning process, the teacher begins by employing the different scaffolding tools mentioned above and, then, as the students' involvement increase the teacher's involvement decreases. The research articles also demonstrated different forms and approaches of scaffolding such as Scaffolded Reading Experience, moment-to-moment verbal scaffolding and Scaffolded Silent Reading which were used successfully by teachers in elementary reading classrooms in order to teach students reading comprehension strategies (Clark & Graves, 2005; Graves et al.,1996; Reutzel et al., 2008). Scaffolding, with its different kinds that can be used by teachers, is an effective tool for encouraging students read properly.
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