When thinking of scaffolding, “we tend to think of structures thrown up alongside of buildings to support workers in their skyward efforts.”

I agree, scaffolding is structure, but I think another key element to scaffolding is support.  Scaffolding is a system of structure and support.  I’ve tried more of a discovery approach with several projects giving students very little guidance in order to let them learn to solve problems on their own.  These projects generally turn out to be nightmares.  They do not go in the direction I had envisioned and my time is spent answering questions and pushing students along because it just isn’t clear what they are to do.

Continuing with the building scaffolding illustration, the scaffolding is a guide to the workers.  Workers can see where they must work and the direction in which the work is moving.  The scaffolding is safe and provides an efficient means for construction.  Scaffolding in PBL must be the same way.  It should provide learners with a clear sense of direction.  They will know where they can move in order to stay within the supports and they will have a clear sense of the direction they are to go.

In my project “Business Savvy” I plan to support students through demonstrating the goal of the project.  Students will get a clear sense of direction through rubrics and good and bad examples of completed project segments.  I plan to guide students by creating resources and providing links to resources I’ve already approved and know will be of use.  This is a large project, so it’s success depends on the use of scaffolding to provide a clear sense of direction to keep students moving forward.


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