Although the concept is originally based on Lev Vygotsky's work on the zone of proximal development (ZPD), the term "scaffolding" was coined by Wood, Bruner and Ross  regarding children's linguistic performance, and later by Cazden (1983), who adopted Bruner's use of the term, extending it to refer to "vertical scaffolding" (the adult extending the child's language by asking further questions), based on the "vertical constructions" of Scollon (1976), and "sequential scaffolding" (playing games with children at mealtimes, bath times, etc.).
Applebee and Langer (1983) went on to describe the essential aspects of formal learning as "instructional scaffolding", that is, the language learner's process of internalization from the social and cultural context, which Lehr (1985) later described as a "technique in which the teacher initially provides a relatively high degree of verbal structure" - the scaffolding - and then "gradually withdraws" the scaffolding "as students become increasingly capable of building conceptual edifices on their own".
Thus, through modelling, the language learner is assisted by a more skilled language user (the teacher) who models the language task to be used, both verbally and in writing. As well as supporting and encouraging the learner, the teacher elicits the learner's acquired knowledge until the learner is able to use the language and generalise it and the scaffolding can be "taken away".
- 1. Student ownership of the learning event. The tasks should be designed to allow students to make their own contribution to the activity as it evolves.
- 2. Appropriateness of the instructional task. The tasks should build upon the knowledge and skills the students' have already acquired, but should be difficult enough to allow for new learning to take place.
- 3. A structured learning environment. In order for the student to make full use of the strategies and approaches presented by the task, a natural sequence of thought and language must be provided.
- 4. Shared responsibility. The role of the teacher should be collaborative rather than evaluative, i.e. tasks are to be solved jointly.
- 5. Transfer of control. As they internalize the new procedures and routine, i.e. become more competent, the students should take on greater responsibility for controlling the progress of the task.
Following on from Hatch (1978), who suggested that "language learning evolves out of learning how to carry on conversations", Long and Sato (1984) consider "conversational scaffolding" as the "crucible of language acquisition".
- Cazden, Courtney B. Whole language plus: essays on literacy in the United States and New Zealand at Google Books
- Coombs, et al. "Improving personal learning through critical thinking scaffolds"
- Foley, J. "Scaffolding" ELT Journal
- Jacobs, G. (2001) "Providing the Scaffold: A Model for Early Childhood/Primary Teacher Preparation". Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol 29:2, pp. 125-130; cited in Verenikina, Irina. "Understanding Scaffolding and the ZPD in Educational Research"
- De Bot, Kees; Lowie, Wander; Verspoor, Marjolyn Second language acquisition: an advanced resource book at Google Books
- Wood, D., Bruner, J. & Ross, G. (1976) "The Role Of Tutoring In Problem Solving", Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 17, pp. 89-100 (1978) cited in Verenikina, Irina. "Understanding Scaffolding and the ZPD in Educational Research"
- Flood, J. Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts at Google Books
- Long, Michael H. Problems in SLA at Google Books