A review of empirical evidence on scaffolding for science education

Tzu Chiang Lin, Ying Shao Hsu*, Shu Sheng Lin, Maio Li Changlai, Kun Yuan Yang, Ting Ling Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


This content analysis of articles in the Social Science Citation Index journals from 1995 to 2009 was conducted to provide science educators with empirical evidence regarding the effects of scaffolding on science learning. It clarifies the definition, design, and implementation of scaffolding in science classrooms and research studies. The results show important cross-study evidence that most researchers have adopted a qualitative approach (67.44%), focused on learning context (72.09%), and used high school students as participants (53.49%). In designing scaffoldings, researchers have shown a preference for long-term explicit scaffolding using multiple representations to promote procedural and strategic skills and alternative assessments of learner performance. Nevertheless, scaffolding issues related to teacher education are unexpectedly few (11.63%) in empirical research. The results also indicate that there are too few studies to guide researchers in considering fading scaffolds for active learning (9.30%). Future directions and suggestions toward conducting research regarding scaffolding are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-455
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Apr


  • content analysis
  • fading
  • scaffolding
  • science learning
  • science teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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