EdGlossary defines scaffolded instruction as a combination of different teaching methods that help students gain greater understanding and independence in their learning process. Instructors offer temporary support and resources to students that can help them gain skills and improve understanding. The instructor gradually removes the support resources as they no longer serve their purpose and gives more control to the student.

How can scaffolded instruction be applied in your WebAssign course? Let’s look at techniques that Professor Willem Wallinga of Fisher College presented, Dealing with the Learning Gap. These techniques will help you transform your WebAssign course using scaffolded instruction.

1. To help self-sufficiency learners, use an advanced module design

Start with a sturdy structure before you start scaffolding. Professor Wallinga recommends using an Advanced Module Design. A module is anything that you might consider an assignment. It includes homework, laboratory problem sets and review, self-guided practice, summative assessment or projects. This breaks down your course design into three core components:

Choose a Learning Objective: Every course should have a learning objective. You can, for example, use common techniques to factor algebraic expressions. Most modules are focused on one learning objective.

Determine your course content: Identify the topics that correspond to each learning objective. To achieve the above learning objective, you must understand such topics as greatest common factor, difference between squares, trinomials, and grouping.

Complete your Module: Choose questions from a variety sources that cover each topic. Once you have selected your questions and created your module, you will use scaffolding to resolve knowledge gaps.

2. Students in Assignments: Providing scaffolding

Once you have your learning objectives and course content, you can create a scaffolded module that meets these requirements. Professor Wallinga shows how to transform common word problems using scaffolded instruction to improve student understanding through tutorial questions in Dealing with the Learn Gap

Start with the Tutorial Questions

Each module should be started by introducing students the topic through tutorial questions. Tutorial questions will help students understand the steps involved in solving the problem. Here are some tips:

Start your assignment by choosing multi-part problems, such as tutorial questions. WebAssign allows you to incorporate tutorial questions into a variety of question types, such as Master It Tutorials Standalone (MI.SA), or Concept Checks. These problems will require students answer each step of the problem-solving process.

These questions can be followed by a tutorial with fewer steps to reach the correct answer. You may also need to follow an optional tutorial, such as an Expanded Problem or Master It tutorial (.MI), which are available as learning support. These tutorials will not only require students to answer the final question, but they also provide step-by-step solutions for those who need it.

These questions can be found by searching the question abbreviation (i.e. Search the question abbreviation (i.e. “MI.SA”) in your question browser.

Tutorial questions are a way to help students understand the steps involved in solving problems step-by-step. They provide a layer of academic integrity that helps students understand the problem and not just find the solution.

Slowly remove learning support and resources

When you are scaffolding your assignment, think about: How much guidance do you want to give? How much can you give your students? Students should be able to handle a lot of information when they first encounter it. As an option resource, you can make learning tools such as Master Its, Read Its, and Watch Its available at the beginning of the assignment to help students who get stuck.

As students work through the module, gradually remove support until they can solve the problem themselves. You might choose questions that have a lot of learning support (Read Its. Watch Its. Master Its) at the beginning of an assignment and then follow it up with a question that has only a video resource.

End with Assessment Questions, Show me my Work

Students now have to solve the problem themselves and, if necessary to demonstrate the work they did. Students should be able to apply their knowledge independently after they have read the step-by-step tutorials. You’ll want students to understand the topic and provide an answer blank at the end of the assignment.