Author(s): Maja Krzic
Published in: Natural Sciences Education (April, 2018)
Scaffolding Student Learning: Forest Floor Example
Instructional scaffolding employs a variety of instructional techniques that move students progressively toward stronger understanding and greater independence in the learning process. The objective of this study was to develop a scaffolding instructional module focused on forest floor for the 2nd year Introduction to Soil Science course at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. The scaffolding module included a campus-based lecture; online multimedia material in the Forest Floor educational resource; campus-based, instructor-led demonstrations of forest floor description and classification; campus-based, collaborative, hands-on activity; written instructions provided in the laboratory manual; an individual written assignment; and a self-guided activity (or quest) carried out on the university campus aided by a mobile game application. These forms of support were gradually removed as students developed independent learning strategies, culminating in the self-guided activity that led students to a forest on the university campus to practice their newly developed skills in forest floor description and classification. The scaffolding components were developed to foster intellectual inquiry and analysis, group problem-solving, and the application of knowledge to complex issues in a real-life setting. This could serve as a model for future educational design in post-secondary courses in the natural sciences.
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