A process by which a more experienced person supplies supporting structures or simplifies a situation or a task in a way that allows one less experienced to solve complex problems that would otherwise be beyond the latter's capability. Scaffolding may also be created by computer tools that structure inquirers’ activities in a way that facilitates complex problem solving.

The concept was first introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) for investigating the help that an adult gives to an individual learner to perform a task that is too difficult for a child to accomplish alone. According to them, scaffolding included such elements as arousing the learner’s interest in the task; reducing the degrees of freedom - and hence the complexity of problem space - in the task to suit the learner’s level of expertise; directing the learner’s activity towards the task goals; highlighting the critical features of the task; helping to control frustration; and modeling the solution to a task.


Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 89-100.

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