Edublogger Debate: Scaffolding vs. Struggling – Can You Be Too Helpful?

My partner in crime here on The Edublogger, Sue Waters, and I have regular debates and conversations around a wide range of topics.

Recently, we were talking about best practices of professional development and writing support documents. We then moved on to a related discussion on best instructional strategies in the classroom when working with students.

One of us believes (and much research will show), that students will remember more and understand better when they struggle with concepts and new ideas. Learning experiences that provide students an opportunity to play with concepts and figure out on their own are best.

The other (with good reasoning and research to back it up too), believes that students that struggle will shut down. A better approach is to provide as much scaffolding as possible – activities that walk through information in a step-by-step manner.

No doubt that to some extent this will depend on the learner, content, environment, and more. But there is a general philosophy at play.

What Say You?

We think many of our readers will have great insight into helping us continue this debate.

Let’s turn this into a blogging discussion!

Here’s what we’d like to try and do:

  1. Write a post on your own blog about this topic. Share your thoughts, examples, research – or whatever you’d like
  2. Leave a comment below with a link to your post
  3. We’ll compile a list of all submissions at the end of the week on a post here on The Edublogger
If this works well, we hope to regularly ask questions like these to help provide everyone with topics to blog about and find new blogs to read.

Ronnie Burt

Works for Edublogs. Former secondary math teacher and wannabe musician. Follow me on twitter @ronnieburt!

65 Responses

  1. Ty Mack says:

    i Disagree becuase some of us need help

  2. Drew idgeway says:

    I disagree because it would be unfair to learn by yourself without help, when you have got help your whole life.

  3. tonilynne emerson says:

    i disagree that kids should struggle on work and do it on there own

  4. kamal adhikari says:

    I am kamal adhikari I agree about this article http://www.multiontwerp.nlmyimgwww.sott.net/articles/show/128379-Kids-learn-better-if-they-figure-it-out-themselves-study because this article say that that Kids learn better if they figure it out themselves: study I agree because In school when teacher is teaching only some student are studying but others are messing around and joking. if we let the kids figure out themselves then they can understand what they can do themselves or not.

  5. Trinity says:

    I agree with dalton, kids should struggle so that they will have good work ethics in college.

  6. Trinity says:

    I agree with the article that kids should struggle with their work so that they’ll have good work ethics in college. : }

  7. Shane says:

    I disagree because people need to learn on their own.

  8. Manuel Pacheco says:

    Manuel Pacheco
    5-7-12
    Rot.4
    50 -100 words

    I think struggling is better for everyone for multiple reasons. It can help anyone in the long run. It could help you figure out your problems in the future when you have no one to help you or lend a helping hand. So therefore we should let students figure and help themselves to expand their minds and need to learn by themselves. Also the article Kids learn better if they figure it out themselves: study also why I support my opinion. Also I disagree with the site Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students.

  9. Dakota Mayer says:

    I personally think that struggling is better in the long run because you learn from struggling and it will teach you that making mistakes are ok sometimes and you have to learn to do things by yourself. They can expand their minds and learn for themselves that it is ok to struggle. I think struggling is better for everyone for multiple reasons. It can help anyone in the long run. It could help you figure out your problems in the future when you have no one to help you or lend a helping hand. So therefore we should let students figure and help them to expand their minds and need to learn by themselves. Also the article Kids learn better if they figure it out themselves: study also why I support my opinion. Also I disagree with the site Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students.

  10. Addy w says:

    I do not agree with this becasue i have struggled with these kind of problems and it doesnt work

  11. Alexis Rose says:

    Alexis Rose
    5-8-12
    Rot.8

    No, I don’t think that a student should not have to figure it out by themselves. It’s like having a kid that’s never done math before and you ask them to solve fractions for the very first time. So that’s why I think teachers should not make students figure it out themselves.

  12. tonilynne emerson says:

    No, I don’t think that a student should not have to figure it out by themselves. It’s like having a kid that have never done math before and you ask them to solve a multiplication problem for the first time. So that’s why I think teachers should not make students figure it out themselves

  13. Tracy Watanabe says:

    Hi Ronnie and Sue,

    This has been a post that has stuck with me because the point where each student shuts down due to frustration is different for each student. If the student knows that you’re not going to give the answer away, but with support learning can take place, then the student over time begins to trust that and rise to the occasion.

    This means the teacher must know how to scaffold and what scaffolding will work for each student. The teacher must encourage the students to grapple with the learning.

    In order to do this, the teacher must have a growth mindset and believe that every student can learn and every student can improve. I like this post here by Dave Meister about allowing students with IEPs to grapple with their learning.

    Thanks for asking the question.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy

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