Complete an Annotated Bibliography entry of a resource from this module that had the greatest impact on your learning and understanding of what it means to be an effective online instructor.
ARTICLE FOR ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ATTACHED
Scaffolding in e‐Learning Environment
Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Education, Prague, Czech Republic
Abstract: The paper focuses on the potential and possibilities of use of scaffolding in e‐learning courses. One of the key
concepts the author works with and builds upon is the concept of zone of proximal development, which was introduced by
Vygotsky. One of the key questions every teacher must ask is how to state the border between the current pupil’s
knowledge and the horizon where it can be developed. Needless to say that determination of these limits may be of crucial
importance for the educational process. The question becomes even more important in work with gifted pupils, in whose
case the limit of what they can achieve under convenient guidance is very individual, as well as the teacher’s role very
specific. The author presents various forms of scaffolding based on his longitudinal experience from work with
mathematically gifted pupils in an e‐learning course Combinatorial Game Theory. This course is organized within the frame
of the Talent project which is designated for gifted Czech upper secondary school students from all over the country. This
course has been designed with respect to the principles of the method of problem‐based learning. Students are assigned
problems that they solve either collaboratively or individually. Some of the problems are intentionally designed in such a
way to bring students to situations in which they must overcome epistemological obstacles. In these situations scaffolding
proves to be a very efficient method. However, its implementation in the environment of internet is specific and differs
from its use in ordinary classrooms. As there is no face to face contact with the student, it is much harder to determine
his/her real state of knowledge. Also the time lag in off‐line communication makes the process harder. The paper discusses
different aspects of use of scaffolding in the internet environment in detail. This all is illustrated on specific examples of its
use. The paper presents four forms of scaffolding realised by specific instructions. The aim of the paper is to illustrate by
and demonstrate on concrete examples the benefits of the use of scaffolding in an e‐learning course for gifted students.
Keywords: scaffolding, game theory, e‐learning, mathematical education
The concept of zone of proximal development, introduced by L. Vygotsky (1978), is defined as “the distance
between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of
potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with
more capable peers.” However, this guidance does not have to be personified, it may also be provided e.g. by
an e‐learning system. That is why Vygotsky introduced also the concept of “more knowledgeable other”.
The concept of scaffolding is close to the concept of zone of proximal development but is not used by
Vygotsky. The concept refers to the help and support provided to a pupil or student while solving problems in
order to allow him/her to achieve the desired goals (German, 2011, Saffkova, 2011). The methods of providing
scaffolding are manifold. Saye and Brush distinguish between soft and hard methods (Saye and Brush, 2002).
Soft, or also contingent scaffolding is based on a teacher’s discussion with their pupils, their reactions to the
pupils’ needs and on offer of support and guidance with respect to the momentary needs (Simons and Klein,
2007). In contrast, in hard scaffolding the teacher analyses the problems that can be come across in advance,
already when planning the lesson (Nováková and Novotná, 2011) and prepares supporting problems or hints
to offer to the pupils or students when needed. Scaffolding can also be provided automatically (e.g. Wood,
2011) by the e‐learning system. However, this paper focuses predominantly on situations when guidance and
support is provided by the course teacher, or more specifically the lecturer.
Wood and Middleton (1975) define three categories of support that can be provided to pupils:
The following text demonstrates and specifies the use of all these three categories of support within e‐learning
courses. When introducing the category “Specific instructions”, four different forms of its use are
Pushing the limits
Confronting a counterexample
Providing the right answer but not the solving procedure
Experimenting using Trial and Error method
The advantages of each of the methods is classified with respect to the anticipated benefits of scaffolding into
the following five categories (Wood et al., 1976):
Gaining and maintaining the learner’s interest in the task.
Making the task simple.
Emphasizing certain aspects that will help with the solution.
Controlling the level of frustration.
Demonstrating the task.
1.2 Course description
The paper presents methods of scaffolding used by the author in e‐learning courses for mathematically gifted
students. These courses for gifted students are opened repeatedly and the here reported research on
scaffolding is still in progress. The paper therefore presents its interim findings and work in process. The
courses are organized for small groups of students (5‐10 persons) from selected upper secondary schools from
all over the Czech Republic. The syllabus of the course is Combinatorial Game Theory (Berlekamp, Conway and
Guy, 2001, Nowakowski, 1998). The course is designed as assisted problem‐solving. There is almost no
instruction, students are assigned a series of graded problems which they solve in open discussion forums.
Students may also enter private discussion with the teacher but this option is seldom selected. The lecturer’s
guidance has the form of his intervention into the discussion. This intervention has different forms, the
lecturer uses both soft and hard scaffolding.
The course is divided into two parts. In the first part students are introduced to different variants of the NIM
game. The goal of this activity is to guide students to discovery of the winning strategy (Bouton, 1901). In the
second part students get to know the game hackenbush. Their task is to find the value of given positions. The
key moment of the course is discovery of positions with surreal values , a . Pupils must overcome
epistemological obstacles (Bachelard, 1940) connected to their existing understanding of real numbers,
number line and the concept of infinity (Cihlár, Eisenmann, Krátká and Vopenka, 2008).
2. General encouragement in e‐learning courses
It is often the case of e‐learning courses that pupils and students who find the presented problems too difficult
stop being active. That is why the lecturer must observe activity of different participants of the course carefully
and encourage the pupils and students as needed. It is much easier for a teacher to see that a pupil is not
paying attention in the classroom – he/she starts disturbing, stares out of the window, reads something else.
These evident signals are not present in e‐learning courses and the lecturer’s position is much more difficult.
He/she may notice a participant’s lack of activity but may fail to interpret the reasons for this drop‐out. He
must then carefully think what and how to do to encourage and motivate the student to get involved again.
Sometimes it is very hard to discover the true reason of a student’s drop‐out.
2.1 First example
A student ceased to be active for several weeks during the course and did not even answer the lecturer’s
messages. Only later was he able to find out that she had had a serious injury and had spent some time in
hospital where she could not participate in the course. Having recovered she got involved in the course again
and completed it successfully.
2.2 Second example
The lecturer was facing the situation when several students fell silent for a longer period of time. He addressed
them by personal e‐mails asking for reasons of their inactivity and offered help with difficult problems,
including organizing a videoconference. The following are some of the replies he received:
Student 1: I find the course very interesting and enjoy solving the problems. However, I’ve been a
bit too busy recently and haven’t managed to do all the work in time. I apologize. Sorry.
My plan is to join in again at the end of the week. As soon as I finish other things that kept me
occupied. I hope I will catch up on coursework. 🙂
Student 2: Hello, sorry for my activity but I have too many courses and am getting short of time.
As it is I only have time to look at it at the weekend. But now I’ve been offered two scholarships 😛
so I won’t get to the coursework before the weekend. Honza
After the lecturer’s encouraging intervention the students joint in actively again.
Soft scaffolding in the form of general encouragement helps to gain and maintain the learner’s interest in the
task. In some cases it may also help to control the level of frustration. It is advisable to make this
encouragement very personal and to combine it with offer to help. This eliminates the potential risk of the
student’s dropping out of the course for its difficulty.
2.3 Comparison to the situation when no scaffolding was offered
In the first course, the teacher repeatedly used mail merge to alert to deadlines. Despite these alerts, some
students did not join in and often sent excuses for having dropped out of the course. An analysis of individual
cases showed that these students’ drop‐out was most often the consequence of a sudden increase in difficulty
of the tasks and problems. Having discovered this, the lecturer now informs students in advance that they are
about to proceed to a more difficult level and offers them additional help if they fall silent at this point.
3. Specific instructions – pushing the limits
Pushing the limits is one of the forms of soft scaffolding. It may be in the form of lecturer’s reactions to the
limiting conditions in a pupil’s or student’s reasoning and thinking. The lecturer tries to encourage the pupil or
student to broaden and generalize his/her considerations. The aim of this type of guidance is predominantly to
turn the student’s attention to those aspects of the assigned problem that he/she failed to notice or to
deduction of consequences the pupil or student has been not aware of.
Lecturer: What is the relation between won and lost fields?
Student: Is their structure always regular?
Lecturer: A good question, but what do you mean by a “regular structure”? Try to find an answer,
it is connected to the previous question.
Student: With the exception of the fields before finish, won and lost positions always repeat in the
same numbers. In case one cannot use a move by one field they are always two blue and four red
Lecturer: I thought you were asking whether a situation must necessarily have a regular structure
regardless of the rules of the game. Is this not a more interesting question :‐)?
This example shows that the student uses the concept of “regular structure” spontaneously. This enables
introduction of the general topic of periodicity of a solution to a problem. The lecturer takes the student’s
concept which is yet not developed and hands it back to the student for further development. As the initial
initiative was on the student’s part, the problem seems more real to the student and he/she is much more
motivated to be solving it.
3.2 Comparison to direct task assignment
Tasks in which students are asked to find a regular structure of won and lost positions can also be come across
in the course but only if they follow a series of lead‐in tasks. In this case, reaction to the student’s spontaneous
idea made it possible to skip these exercises and start solving a more demanding task before the student
would have done if proceeding along the standard course trajectory. The idea of a regular structure had just
moved into the particular student’s zone of proximal development, thus allowing the lecturer to make use of
4. Specific instructions – confronting a counter example
Another example of soft scaffolding is providing a counterexample to the presented hypothesis. Confrontation
of the student’s strategy with a situation in which it does not work makes him/her reconsider the whole
situation. Moreover, a conveniently selected counterexample may guide the student to the correct solution.
One of the games solved by the pupils in the discussed course is the game TIC‐TAC‐TOE (see fig. 1). In some
cases students assess the game as won by the first player even though it is a draw. The counterexample is
offered by playing the game with teacher.
Figure 1: TIC‐TAC‐TOE game (from Jancarik, 2007)
Providing a well‐chosen counterexample to the presented hypothesis helps to emphasise some aspects of the
problem and may help with the solution. A counterexample may help the student realize where he/she is
making a mistake and to correct his/her solution.
4.2 Analysis of use of counterexamples
Providing a counterexample is in some cases far more efficient than looking for and uncovering of mistakes in
students’ logical reasoning. The reasons are:
A student’s justification may be long and complicated. In some cases explanation of different separate
ideas and deductions may require a lot of time. This of course implies that in an e‐learning course
environment the effort to pinpoint the source of a mistake in reasoning is extremely difficult and time
demanding. On the other hand, without any doubt in some cases this time and effort are worthwhile,
especially in case of complex problems.
If a teacher or a lecturer points out a pupil’s or student’s mistake, it might demotivate the pupil or the
student. In contrast providing a convenient counterexample enables the pupil or the student to succeed
by discovering the source of his/her mistake in reasoning on his/her own.
5. Specific instructions – providing the right answer but not the solving procedure
This form of help is based on the teacher’s provision of correct answer and student’s search for justification or
explanation of this answer. This form of scaffolding may be situation based or planned in advance by the
lecturer. It means this is a form of hard scaffolding.
The example comes from a discussion forum about the Cat and Mouse Game (Tapson, 1977, see fig. 2). The
goal of the game is to have the cat capture the mouse. The game has a very simple winning strategy but every
time most students defend the possibility that the mouse can always escape.
Figure 2: Cat and mouse game (from Jancarik, 2007)
Student: Each hole neighbours at least with other two holes which means the mouse can never
“be cornered”. The mouse can be escaping for ever. (This is the last of a number of comments
expressing the same idea.)
Teacher: You all agree here that the mouse can be running away as long as it wants, you present
supporting arguments, but are you sure about this? Are you sure there are not any mistakes in
Teacher (after 4 days with no reaction): Well, nobody replied to my comment. So I am giving the
right answer now: The cat, if it uses the right strategy, will catch the mouse quite fast, regardless
of the mouse’s strategy. Will you find how the cat can do it?
Sample Annotated Bibliography
Program Name or Degree Name (e.g., Master of Science in Nursing), Walden University
COURSE XXX: Title of Course
Month XX, 202X
Sample Annotated Bibliography
Autism research continues to grapple with activities that best serve the purpose of fostering positive interpersonal relationships for children who struggle with autism. Children have benefited from therapy sessions that provide ongoing activities to aid autistic children’s ability to engage in healthy social interactions. However, less is known about how K–12 schools might implement programs for this group of individuals to provide additional opportunities for growth, or even if and how school programs would be of assistance in the end. There is a gap, then, in understanding the possibilities of implementing such programs in schools to foster the social and thus mental health of children with autism.
Kenny, M. C., Dinehart, L. H., & Winick, C. B. (2016). Child-centered play therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. In A. A. Drewes & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Play therapy in middle childhood (pp. 103–147). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14776-014
In this chapter, Kenny et al. provided a case study of the treatment of a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ADS). Kenny et al. described the rationale and theory behind the use of child-centered play therapy (CCPT) in the treatment of a child with ASD. Specifically, children with ADS often have sociobehavioral problems that can be improved when they have a safe therapy space for expressing themselves emotionally through play that assists in their interpersonal development. The authors outlined the progress made by the patient in addressing the social and communicative impairments associated with ASD. Additionally, the authors explained the role that parents have in implementing CCPT in the patient’s treatment. Their research on the success of CCPT used qualitative data collected by observing the patient in multiple therapy sessions.
CCPT follows research carried out by other theorists who have identified the role of play in supporting cognition and interpersonal relationships. This case study is relevant to the current conversation surrounding the emerging trend toward CCPT treatment in adolescents with ASD as it illustrates how CCPT can be successfully implemented in a therapeutic setting to improve the patient’s communication and socialization skills. However, Kenny et al. acknowledged that CCPT has limitations—children with ADS, who are not highly functioning and or are more severely emotionally underdeveloped, are likely not suited for this type of therapy.
Kenny et al.’s explanation of this treatments’s implementation is useful for professionals in the psychology field who work with adolescents with ASD. This piece is also useful to parents of adolescents with ASD, as it discusses the role that parents can play in successfully implementing the treatment. However, more information is needed to determine if this program would be suitable as part of a K–12 school program focused on the needs of children with ASD.
Stagnitti, K. (2016). Play therapy for school-age children with high-functioning autism. In A. A. Drewes and C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Play therapy in middle cildhood (pp. 237–255). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14776-013
Stagnitti discussed how the Learn to Play program fosters the social and personal development of children who have high functioning autism. The program is designed as a series of play sessions carried out over time, each session aiming to help children with high functioning autism learn to engage in complex play activities with their therapist and on their own. The program is beneficial for children who are 1- to 8-years old if they are already communicating with others both nonverbally and verbally. Through this program, the therapist works with autistic children by initiating play activities, helping children direct their attention to the activity, eventually helping them begin to initiate play on their own by moving past the play narrative created by the therapist and adding new, logical steps in the play scenario themselves. The underlying rationale for the program is that there is a link between the ability of children with autism to create imaginary play scenarios that are increasingly more complex and the development of emotional well-being and social skills in these children. Study results from the program have shown that the program is successful: Children have developed personal and social skills of several increment levels in a short time. While Stagnitti provided evidence that the Learn to Play program was successful, she also acknowledged that more research was needed to fully understand the long-term benefits of the program.
Stagnitti offered an insightful overview of the program; however, her discussion was focused on children identified as having high-functioning autism, and, therefore, it is not clear if and how this program works for those not identified as high-functioning. Additionally, Stagnitti noted that the program is already initiated in some schools but did not provide discussion on whether there were differences or similarities in the success of this program in that setting.
Although Stagnitti’s overview of the Learn to Play program was helpful for understanding the possibility for this program to be a supplementary addition in the K–12 school system, more research is needed to understand exactly how the program might be implemented, the benefits of implementation, and the drawbacks. Without this additional information, it would be difficult for a researcher to use Stigmitti’s research as a basis for changes in other programs. However, it does provide useful context and ideas that researchers can use to develop additional research programs.
Wimpory, D. C., & Nash, S. (1999). Musical interaction therapy–Therapeutic play for children with autism. Child Language and Teaching Therapy, 15(1), 17–28. https://doi.org/10.1177/026565909901500103
Wimpory and Nash provided a case study for implementing music interaction therapy as part of play therapy aimed at cultivating communication skills in infants with ASD. The researchers based their argument on films taken of play-based therapy sessions that introduced music interaction therapy. To assess the success of music play, Wimpory and Nash filmed the follow-up play-based interaction between the parent and the child. The follow-up interactions revealed that 20 months after the introduction of music play, the patient developed prolonged playful interaction with both the psychologist and the parent. The follow-up films also revealed that children initiated spontaneously pretend play during these later sessions. After the introduction of music, the patient began to develop appropriate language skills.
Since the publication date for this case study is 1999, the results are dated. Although this technique is useful, emerging research in the field has undoubtedly changed in the time since the article was published. Wimpory and Nash wrote this article for a specific audience, including psychologists and researchers working with infants diagnosed with ASD. This focus also means that other researchers beyond these fields may not find the researcher’s findings applicable.
This research is useful to those looking for background information on the implementation of music into play-based therapy in infants with ASD. Wimpory and Nash presented a basis for this technique and outlined its initial development. Thus, this case study can be useful in further trials when paired with more recent research.