Defining Scaffolding In The Context Of Specific Learning Difficulties

Middleton, Vireen (2004). Defining Scaffolding In The Context Of Specific Learning Difficulties. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study is an investigation of the ways in which teachers in a special school for children with specific learning difficulties support the learning of children in this context. This thesis questioned the utility of the 'scaffolding' metaphor in the context of Specific Learning Difficulties and sought to redefine the metaphor for the teaching of atypical children. This was because of the nature of learning difficulties. A second aim of the study was to determine whether there were qualitative differences in the teaching strategies employed in Mathematics and Guided Writing lessons during 'Speaking and Listening' when novel tasks were introduced. Observations were carried out during eight Mathematics lessons and five Guided Writing lessons. Although the metaphor that best captures a sense of shared competence and permanent support at a basic level remains open to discussion, this research has succeeded in highlighting some ways in which teachers engage children and foster learning effectively. Qualitative analysis of the data revealed that teachers supported children in these contexts by 'creating an effective learning environment'. This was achieved in three main ways: the mutual construction of knowledge, the negotiation of failure and teacher mediation of the learning environment. Differences in teaching approaches did emerge between Mathematics and Guided Writing lessons. In both curricular areas there were examples of all three forms of support but important differences emerged in their nature. The implications of these results for theory and practice are discussed.

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