Scaffolding in Technology-Enhanced Science Education
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This dissertation focuses on the effectiveness of scaffolding in technology-enhanced science learning environments, and specifically the relative merits of computer- and teacher-based scaffolding in science inquiry. Scaffolding is an instructional support that helps learners solve problems, carry out tasks, or achieve goals that they are unable to accomplish on their own. Although support such as scaffolding is necessary when students engage in complex learning environments, many issues must be resolved before educators can effectively implement scaffolding in instruction. To achieve this, this dissertation includes two studies: a systematic literature review and an experimental study. The two studies attempted to reveal some important issues which are not widely recognized in the existing literature. The primary problem confronting the educator is how to determine which of the numerous kinds of scaffolding will allow them to educate students most effectively. The scaffolding forms that researchers create are often confusing, overlapping, or contradictory. In response to this, the first study critically analyzed the ways that researchers have defined and applied scaffolding, and provided suggestions for future scaffolding design and research. Moreover, studies tend to focus only on computer-based scaffolding rather than examining ways to integrate it with teacher-based instruction. Although researchers generally recognize that teacher-based support is important, research in this area is limited. The second study of this dissertation employed a quasi-experimental design with four experimental conditions, each of which include a type of computer-based procedural scaffolding (continuous vs. faded) paired with a type of teacher-based metacognitive scaffolding (early vs. late). Each class was assigned to use one of the four conditions. The findings indicated that students receiving continuous computer-based procedural and early teacher-based metacognitive scaffolding performed statistically better at learning scientific inquiry skills than other treatment groups. Students using faded computer-based procedural and early teacher-based metacognitive scaffolding showed the worst performance. However, among the four groups there existed no statistically significant difference in terms of the effect on students? ability to learn science knowledge. Moreover, teacher-based metacognitive scaffolding did not have a significant impact on either science content knowledge or scientific inquiry skills.
Wu, Hui-Ling (2010). Scaffolding in Technology-Enhanced Science Education. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from