Examining the Interplay between Social and Material Scaffolds in a Science Curriculum (2019)

In the first year of my PhD program, another member of my lab (Nicole D. Martin) and I hosted a structured poster session about scaffolding at AERA 2015. Our poster focused on how two teachers adapted their instruction as prompts in students’ journals decreased in support (or faded) over a 12-week inquiry-based physics curriculum. We used looked at three prompts to scaffold science inquiry – one each of circle the answer, fill in the blank, and open-ended response. These prompts decreased support by reducing constraints on answers to the prompt. We also looked at how teachers adjusted their instruction in response to fading of support during class discussions. One teacher developed other strategies that mediated decreased support, while the other teacher maintained the same instructional strategies. Students who worked with the teacher who adapted her support provided better responses over time, while students who worked with the teacher who did not adapt his support provided worse responses over time.

We extended our initial study into a journal article about the interplay between material scaffolds (journal prompts) and social scaffolds (teacher strategies), especially as the support embedded in material scaffolds faded over time.

Journal Article:

Martin, N.D., Dornfeld Tissenbaum, C., Gnesdilow, D., & Puntambekar, S. (2019). Fading distributed scaffolds: The importance of complementarity between teacher and material scaffolds. Instructional Science, 47(1), 69-98.

Structured Poster Session:

Martin, N. D., Dornfeld, C., Gnesdilow, D., & Puntambekar, S. (2015, April). Fading distributed scaffolds: The interplay between instructor and material-based scaffolds. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Researcher Association, Chicago, IL.