Saturday, February 9, 2008

Characteristic of a profession

Characteristic of a profession


A profession is a group of people in a learned occupation, the members of which agree to abide by specified rules of conduct when practicing the profession.
There are many professions and they are controlled to varying degrees by
professional, regulatory or governmental bodies. Typical professions are medicine, dentistry, law, engineering, architecture, social work, nursing, accountancy. Most definitions of profession identify ‘working for the public good’ as among the characteristics of the profession.
The terms ‘profession’ (the area of study and work) and ‘professional body’ (the organisation that regulates or has oversight of the profession) sometimes merge in popular usage.
The Australian Council of Professions (2004) defines ‘a profession’ as follows:
A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others.
It is inherent in the definition of a profession that a code of ethics governs the activities of each professional. Such codes require behaviour and practice beyond the personal moral

obligations of an individual. They define and demand high standards of behaviour in respect to the services provided to the public and in dealing with professional colleagues. Further, these codes are enforced by the profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community.
Boone states:
Professions are based on scientific and philosophical facts acquired through academic effort. Individuals who enter a profession do so for reasons that distinguish them from other work or vocations. They understand that their work renders a unique public service with a scientific or philosophical basis and/or body of knowledge that requires an extended period of academic and hands-on preparation. Professions are also based on specialized skills necessary for the professional to perform the public service.
Southern Illinois University (2004) proposes that professions have the following common characteristics:
· · Associated with a profession is a great body of special knowledge.
· · Preparation for a profession includes training in applying that knowledge.
· · The standards of a profession are maintained at a high level through the force of organization or concerted opinion.
· · Each member of a profession recognizes his or her responsibilities to the public over and above responsibilities to clients or to other members of the profession.

This matches the earlier views of Burbules and Densmore (1991) identify the characteristics of a profession as:
professional autonomy; a clearly defined, highly developed, specialized, and theoretical knowledge base; control of training, certification, and licensing of new entrants; self-governing and self-policing authority, especially with regard to professional ethics; and a commitment to public service.
Pratte and Rury (1991), focus more on status and remuneration in their list of the characteristics of a profession:
remuneration, social status, autonomous or authoritative power, and service.
Characteristic of a profession

A profession arises when any trade or occupation transforms itself through "the development of formal qualifications based upon education and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights."
The process by which a profession arises from a trade or occupation is often termed professionalization and has been described as one, "starting with the establishment of the activity as a full-time occupation, progressing through the establishment of training schools and university links, the formation of a professional organization, and the struggle to gain legal support for exclusion, and culminating with the formation of a formal code of ethics.

1. Regulation
Regulation enforced by statute distinguishes a profession from other occupations represented by trade groups who aspire to professional status for their members. In all countries, professions have their regulatory or professional bodies, whose function is to define, promote, oversee, support and regulate the affairs of its members. For some professions there may be several such bodies.
2. Autonomy
Professions tend to be autonomous, which means they have a high degree of control of their own affairs: "professionals are autonomous insofar as they can make independent judgments about their work" This usually means "the freedom to exercise their professional judgement." However, it has other meanings. "Professional autonomy is often described as a claim of professionals that has to serve primarily their own interests...this professional autonomy can only be maintained if members of the profession subject their activities and decisions to a critical evaluation by other members of the profession "The concept of autonomy can therefore be seen to embrace not only judgement, but also self-interest and a continuous process of critical evaluation of ethics and procedures from within the profession itself.
3. Status and prestige
Professions enjoy a high social status, regard and respect [conferred upon them by society. This high esteem arises primarily from the higher social function of their work, which is regarded as vital to society as a whole and thus of having a special and valuable nature. All professions involve technical,

specialized and highly skilled work often referred to as "professional expertise." Training
for this work involves obtaining degrees and professional qualifications (see Licensure) without which entry to the profession is barred (occupational closure). Training also requires regular updating of skills.
4. Power
All professions have power. This power is used to control its own members, and also its area of expertise and interests. A profession tends to dominate, police and protect its area of expertise and the conduct of its members, and exercises a dominating influence over its entire field which means that professions can act monopolist, rebuffing competition from main trades and occupations, as well as subordinating and controlling lesser but related trades. A profession is characterized by the power and high prestige it has in society as a whole. It is the power, prestige and value that society confers upon a profession that more clearly define it. This is why Judges, Lawyers, Clerics, and Medical personnel enjoy this high social status and are regarded as true professionals
Some more Characteristic of a profession by Bob Kizlik
I. Professions are occupationally related social institutions established and maintained as a means of providing essential services to the individual and the society.

2. Each profession is concerned with an identified area of need or function (for example, maintenance of physical and emotional health, preservation of rights and freedom, enhancing the opportunity to learn).
3. The profession collectively, and the professional individually, possesses a body of knowledge and a list of behaviors and skills (professional culture) needed in the practice of the profession; such knowledge, behavior, and skills normally are not possessed by the nonprofessional.
4. Members of the profession are involved in decision making in the service of the client. These decisions are made in accordance with the most valid knowledge available, against a background of principles and theories, and within the context of possible impact on other related conditions or decisions.
5. The profession is based on one or more undergirding disciplines from which it builds its own applied knowledge and skills.
6. The profession is organized into one or more professional associations, which, within broad limits of social accountability, are granted autonomy in control of the actual work of the profession and the conditions that surround it (admissions, educational standards, examination and licensing, career line, ethical and performance standards, professional discipline).

7. The profession has agreed-upon performance standards for admission to the profession and for continuance within it.
8. Preparation for and introduction into the profession is provided through a protracted preparation program, usually in a professional school on a college or university campus.
9. There is a high level of public trust and confidence in the profession and in individual practitioners, based upon the profession's demonstrated capacity to provide service clearly beyond that which would otherwise be available.
10. Individual practitioners are characterized by a strong service motivation and lifetime commitment to competence.
11. Authority to practice in any individual case derives from the client or the employing organization; accountability for the competence of professional practice within the particular case is to the profession itself.
12. There is relative freedom from direct on-the-job supervision and from direct public evaluation of the individual practitioner. The professional accepts responsibility in the name of his or her profession and is accountable through his or her profession to the society.
Scaffolding is a temporary framework used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pipes (termed tubes in Britain), although it can be made out of other materials. Bamboo is still used frequently in Asia.
The term ‘scaffolding’ comes from the works of Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976). The term ‘scaffolding’ was developed as a metaphor to describe the type of assistance offered by a teacher or peer to support learning. In the process of scaffolding, the teacher helps the student master a task or concept that the student is initially unable to grasp independently. The teacher offers assistance with only those skills that are beyond the student’s capability. Of great importance is allowing the student to complete as much of the task as possible, unassisted. The teacher only attempts to help the student with tasks that are just beyond his current capability. Student errors are expected, but, with teacher feedback and prompting, the student is able to achieve the task or goal. When the student takes responsibility for or masters the task, the teacher begins the process of “fading”, or the gradual removal of the scaffolding, which allows the student to work independently. “Scaffolding is actually a bridge used to build upon what students already know to arrive at something they do not know. If scaffolding is properly administered, it will act as an enabler, not as a disabler” (Benson, 1997).
Many different facilitative tools can be utilized in scaffolding student learning. Among them are: breaking the task into smaller more, manageable parts; using ‘think alouds’, or verbalizing thinking processes when completing a task; cooperative learning, which promotes teamwork and dialogue among peers; concrete prompts, questioning; coaching; cue cards or modeling. Others might include the activation of background knowledge, giving tips, strategies, cues and procedures. Teachers have to be mindful of keeping the learner in pursuit of the task while minimizing the learner’s stress level. Skills or tasks too far out of reach can lead a student to his frustration level, and tasks that are too simple can cause much the same effect.
How teachers interact with students as they complete a task is important to the students' ability to perform the activity. Scaffolding is an instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students.
Clay and Cazden (1992) point out two scaffolding strategies in teaching reading: working with new knowledge and accepting partially correct responses.
In the first strategy, when a teacher suspects the child does not have the ideas or words needed for a particular text, he/she may explain some part of the story or contrast a feature presented with something he/she knows the child understands from another reading.
In the second strategy, the teacher uses what is correct in the student's response but probes or cues the student, so as to suggest good possibilities for active consideration.
Recognizing what you do know in a problem, as well as what you don't yet understand, are aspects of
metacognition in problem solving that are similar to a scaffolding approach.
Scaffolding Theory was first introduced in the late 1950s by
Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist. He used the term to describe young children's oral language acquisition. Helped by their parents when they first start learning to speak, young children are provided with instinctive structures to learn a language. Bed-time stories and read alouds are classic examples (Daniels, 1994). Some ingredients of scaffolding are predictability, playfulness, focus on meaning, role reversal, modelling, and nomenclature.
Characteristics and Critical Features of Scaffolded Instruction
Lange (2002) states that there are two major steps involved in instructional scaffolding: (1) “development of instructional plans to lead the students from what they already know to a deep understanding of new material”, and
(2) “execution of the plans, wherein the instructor provides support to the students at every step of the learning process.” In an appropriate scaffolding process, there will be specific identifiable features that are in place to allow facilitation of assisting the learner in internalizing the knowledge until mastery occurs. Applebee and Langer (1983), as cited by Zhao and Orey (1999), identify these five features as:
Intentionality: The task has a clear overall purpose driving any separate activity that may contribute to the whole.
Appropriateness: Instructional tasks pose problems that can be solved with help but which students could not successfully complete on their own.
Structure: Modeling and questioning activities are structured around a model of appropriate approaches to the task and lead to a natural sequence of thought and language.
Collaboration: The teacher’s response to student work recasts and expands upon the students’ efforts without rejecting what they have accomplished on their own. The teacher’s primary role is collaborative rather than evaluative.
Internalization: External scaffolding for the activity is gradually withdrawn as the patterns are internalized by the students (p. 6).
Larkin (2002) states, “Scaffolding is one of the principles of effective instruction that enables teachers to accommodate individual student needs.” In keeping with this theory, it can be seen that instruction must also be tailored around “contingent instruction”, which is a term identified by Reichgerlt, Shadbolt, Paskiewica, Wood, & Wood (1993) as cited by Zhao and Orey (1999). The teacher realizes that the amount of instructional support given is dependent upon the outcome of the previous assistance. If a learner is unable to complete a task after an intervention by the teacher, then he or she is immediately given a more specific directive. Equally, if the learner is successful with an intervention, then he or she is given a less explicit directive the next time he or she needs assistance. Next, the instructor must recognize that the instructional intervention must be specific to the task the learner is currently attempting to complete. Finally, the teacher must keep in the forefront of the process that the student must be given ample time to apply the directive or to try a new move him/herself before additional intervention is supplied. We can explore this type of instruction through the introductory scenario about Mrs. Maddox’s class’ study of communities.
In our scenario Mrs. Maddox showed intentionality by providing activities for her students to enhance the study of rural, urban and suburban communities. She drew on prior knowledge of the rural area by reminding students of the characteristics of the area in which they live. Next, she introduced urban and suburban communities by providing a field trip to Atlanta, an urban environment. The students also experienced suburban communities by driving through several of these areas on the way to Atlanta.
Appropriateness was displayed by her choice of projects for her students. Even though she offered the students a choice, they were limited by her menu of projects. Her selections were made by including only those which the students could not successfully complete on their own. In other words, the projects are just beyond their zone of proximal development.
The Structure of modeling and questioning activities provides appropriate approaches to the tasks for the students. Mrs. Maddox uses verbalizing for Patrick as well as modeling. He is then allowed to become a peer tutor in order to expand his knowledge.
Collaboration is also seen in her work with Patrick. She did not tell him that he was wrong but, instead, analyzed his approach, verbalized the steps necessary to complete the task while modeling the skills needed. She then invited him to join her in a chant to help him remember the steps of the process.
Finally, Internalization is evidenced by Mrs. Maddox’s fading of her scaffolding and allowing Patrick to become a peer tutor for Melissa.
Six General Elements of Scaffolded Instruction
Scaffolded instruction can be analyzed for application through its six general elements. Zhao and Orey (1999) identify these six general features of the scaffolding process as: sharing a specific goal, whole task approach, immediate availability of help, intention assisting, optimal level of help, and conveying an expert model.

Sharing a Specific Goal
It is the teacher’s responsibility to establish the shared goal. However, the learner’s interests must be recruited or enlisted through the teacher’s ability to communicate with the learner and achieve intersubjectivity (sharing intentions, perceptions, feelings and conceptions) (Zhao & Orey, 1999). The teacher must do some pre-assessment of the student and the curriculum. Achievement of curriculum objectives is planned as the teacher considers the needs of each student. The teacher must be considerate of some of the unique, unusual, and often ineffective problem-solving techniques that children use. As discussed in the chapter on the Six C’s of motivation, allowing input from the student on the shared goal will enhance intrinsic motivation. It will also help control the frustration level of the learner as he or she will feel that their interests have been validated. It will assist the learner in establishing a desire to master the goal where success is contingent upon one’s own ability in developing new skills. In this manner, the process of learning itself is esteemed, and the attainment of mastery is seen as being directly correlated with the effort put forth.
Whole Task Approach
In the Whole Task Approach, the focus is on the overall goal to be attained throughout the entire process. Consequently, the task is learned as a whole instead of a set of individual sub-skills. Each feature of the lesson is learned as it relates to the whole task. This approach lessens the amount of passive knowledge on the part of the learner and the need for transfer is not as great. It must be noted that this approach is only effective if the learner does not experience extreme difficulty with any of the component skills needed to complete the whole task. Imagine how difficult it would be to scaffold a child in telling time if they could not identify the numbers 1 through 12.
Immediate Availability of Help
Frequent success is important in scaffolding especially in helping control frustration levels of the learner. Student successes may be experienced more often if the MKO provides assistance in a timely and effective manner so as to enable the learner to proceed with the task. These successes, in turn, help to increase motivation through a positive self-efficacy and make the learner’s time and effort more productive. This procedure directly corresponds to the first rule of scaffolding as defined by Zhao & Orey (1999), which is to assist the learner with those tasks he/she is not yet able to carry out on his/her own.
It is central to the scaffolding process to supply assistance to the learner’s present focus, thereby helping the learner with his/her current difficulties. In providing this immediate help with the current task at hand, a more productive learning environment is fostered because information has been related and conferred according to the learner’s focus keeping the learner in pursuit of the task. However, it is often necessary to redirect the intentions of the learner if they do not represent an effective strategy for completing the task. The teacher or MKO must be cognizant that there are numerous ways of accomplishing a certain task. If the learner’s current path is effective, it should be accepted as it is the essence of scaffolding to help the learner proceed with the least amount of assistance as possible. If the MKO finds him/herself consistently helping a learner with low level intentions, it may be a good idea to turn to coaching as a strategy to help the learner progress. This is beneficial in that it helps the learner examine the task from a different perspective so as to encourage higher level thinking skills.
Optimal Level of Help
What the learner is able to do should be matched with the level of assistance provided. The learner should be given just enough help to overcome the current obstacle, but the level of assistance should not hinder the learner from contributing and participating in the learning process of that particular task. In other words, the assistance should only attend to the areas of the task that he/she cannot accomplish on his/her own. No intervention should be made if the current task is within the learner’s capabilities. However, if the learner lacks the necessary skills, a demonstration is needed.
Conveying an Expert Model
An expert model can provide an explicit example of the task as the expert way of accomplishing the task. The techniques for accomplishing the task are clearly expressed. In an implicit demonstration, the information is outlined around the expert model.
Methods of Instructional Scaffolding
Lange (2002) states that based on the work of Hogan and Pressley (1997) there are five different methods in instructional scaffolding: modeling of desired behaviors, offering explanations, inviting students to participate, verifying and clarifying student understandings, and inviting students to contribute clues. These techniques are used to direct students toward self-regulation and independence.
The first step in instructional scaffolding is usually modeling. Lange (2002) cites Hogan and Pressley (1997) as defining modeling as, "teaching behavior that shows how one should feel, think or act within a given situation." There are three types of modeling. Think-aloud modeling gives auditory substance to the thought processes associated with a task. For example, a teacher might verbalize her thought processes for breaking an unfamiliar word down into its parts so that it can be read. Talk-aloud modeling involves verbalizing the thought process or problem solving strategy while demonstrating the task. An example would be a teacher verbally describing her thought processes as she demonstrates the correct way to subtract two digit numbers on the board. Lastly, there is performance modeling. Performance modeling requires no verbal instruction. For example, a baseball coach might show one of his players how to get under a ball to catch it (Lange, 2002).
As well as modeling, the instructor needs to offer explanations. These explanations should openly address the learner's comprehension about what is being learned, why and when it is used, and how it is used (Lange, 2002). At the beginning, explanations are detailed and comprehensive and repeated often. As the learner progresses in his knowledge, explanations may consist of only key words and prompts to help the learner remember important information. For example, when teaching children how to identify adjectives in a sentence, the teacher will need to lead the children through learning the detailed definition of an adjective in the beginning. The instructor may have to repeat or rephrase this thorough explanation many times during guided practice. As the students gain experience, the teacher might just prompt the students with words like “what kind”, “which one” and “how many.”
Lange (2002) next addresses inviting student participation, especially in the early stages of scaffolding. This technique will heighten student engagement and ownership in the learning process. It will also provide the instructor with an opportunity to emphasize or correct understandings of the task. This leads us to verifying and clarifying student understandings. As students become familiar with new material, it is key for the teacher to evaluate student understanding and provide positive and corrective feedback.
Points to Consider When Implementing Instructional Scaffolding:
Larkin (2002) suggests that teachers can follow a few effective techniques of scaffolding:
Begin by boosting confidence. Introduce students first to tasks they can perform with little or no assistance. This will improve self-efficacy. Provide enough assistance to allow students to achieve success quickly. This will help lower frustration levels and ensure that students remain motivated to advance to the next step. This will also help guard against students giving up due to repeated failures. Help students “fit in.” Students may actually work harder if they feel as if they resemble their peers. Avoid boredom. Once a skill is learned, don’t overwork it. Look for clues that the learner is mastering the task. Scaffolding should be removed gradually and then removed completely when mastery of the task is demonstrated.
Applications of Scaffolding
Scaffolding is used in a very wide range of situations. Mothers naturally employ this approach as they teach their children how to live in and enjoy their world. Teachers, from Pre-K to Adult Education appreciate the necessity and increased learning afforded by the use of these techniques. Non-traditional educational settings, such as business training scenarios and athletic teams, also use these methods to assure the success of their employees and/or members. Teachers and trainers can even use the techniques and strategies of scaffolding without even knowing the name of this useful method. It is a very natural approach to ensure the learning of the student.

Pre – School (Toddlers)
Morelock, Brown and Morrissey (2003) noted in their study that mothers adapt their scaffolding to the perceived abilities of their children. The mothers scaffold interactions at play by modeling or prompting behaviors which they see demonstrated by their child or just beyond the level demonstrated. For instance, the very young child is playing with blocks by stacking them on top of each other. The mother attracts the child’s attention and models how to “build” a wall or bridge by stacking them in a different way and using a toy person or truck to climb the wall or ride over the bridge. She then watches and assists as needed until the child appropriates the skill or loses interest and moves on to something else. She will try again the next time the child is playing with the blocks or try another construction which she feels will be more attractive to the child.
The study further suggested that the mother will adapt her scaffolding behavior to the needs of her child. If she sees that the child is imaginative and creative, she will then scaffold beyond the apparent skill level exhibited. Conversely, if she perceives that the child is less attentive or exhibits behaviors which are not easy to decipher, she will then demonstrate new skills instead of extensions to the skills already present. The authors suggest that this could be a possible early indicator for giftedness.
Pre-K through Grade 5 (Elementary School)
An elementary math teacher is introducing the addition of two digit numbers. She first solicits the students’ interest by using a “hook” such as an interesting story or situation. Then she reduces the number of steps for initial success by modeling, verbally talking through the steps as she works and allowing the students to work with her on the sample problems. An overhead projector is a great tool for this activity because the teacher is able to face the class while she works the problems. She can then pick up non-verbal cues from the class as she works. The students' interest is held by asking them to supply two digit numbers for addition, playing "Stump the Teacher". She takes this opportunity for further modeling of the skills and verbally presenting the process as she works through these problems.
The students are then allowed to work several problems independently as the teacher watches and provides assistance where needed. The success rate is increased by providing these incremental opportunities for success. Some students may require manipulatives to solve the problems and some may require further “talking through” the procedures. These strategies may be applied individually or in small groups.
More challenging problems can then be added to the lesson. Further explicit modeling and verbalization will be required. Some students will be able to work independently while some will require more assistance and scaffolding. She will begin to fade the scaffolding as soon as she is sure that the students can effectively function alone.

Upper Grades (6-12)
Banaszynski (2000) provides another example of instructional scaffolding in his article about a project in which a group of eighth-grade history students in Wisconsin examined the Revolutionary War from two points of view—American and British. He began by guiding his students as they undertook a sequential series of activities in order to thoroughly investigate the opposing reactions to causes of the war. Then students contributed to a class timeline which detailed causes, actions and reactions. Banaszynski describes how work continued:
“ After the timeline was completed, the students were arranged in groups, and each group did a critical analysis of primary-source material, focusing on the efforts each side made to avoid the war. This started students thinking about what the issues were and how each side handled them. The next step was to ask a question: Did the colonists have legitimate reasons for going to war against Great Britain? [I] asked each group to choose either the Patriot or Loyalist position and spend a day searching the Internet for primary sources and other materials to support their positions.”
The instructor continued scaffolding by interviewing the groups to probe for misconceptions, need for redirection, or re-teaching. Students later compared research and wrote essays that were analyzed and evaluated by fellow students using rubrics; groups then composed essays that included the strongest arguments from the individual works. The project, Banaszynski says, was an enormous success; students began the unit working as individuals reliant upon him for instruction. As work proceeded, the feedback framework was altered so that students were guiding each other and, in turn, themselves. Banaszynski’s role in guiding the research and leading the reporting activities faded as the project continued and requirements became more complicated. As a result, students were able to appreciate their mastery of both materials and skills.
Adult and Higher Education
Kao, Lehman, & Cennamo (1996) postulated that scaffolds could be embedded in hypermedia or multimedia software to provide students with support while using the software. They realized that soft scaffolds are dynamic, situation-specific aids provided by a teacher or peer while hard scaffolds are static and specific. Thus, hard scaffolds can be anticipated and planned based on typical student difficulties with a task. With these two aspects in mind, they developed a piece of software called “Decision Point” and tested it with a group of students.
They embedded three types of hard scaffolds: conceptual scaffolds, specific strategic scaffolds, and procedural scaffolds. The conceptual scaffolds assisted the students in organizing their ideas and connecting them to related information. The specific strategic scaffolds were included to help the students ask more specific questions and the procedural scaffolds were useful to clarify specific tasks such as presentations. Examples of these types of embedded scaffolds include: interactive essays, recommended documents, student guides, student journal, and storyboard templates.
This type of software would be very useful in higher education and adult learning because it is portable, could be used asynchronously, and allows the learners more independence. One or two initial face-to-face sessions would be required to teach the basics, establish learning communities and relate the class expectations and timeline. The students could then proceed at their pace while working within the framework of their group and the class expectations. The instructor would provide feedback to groups and individuals, be available for assistance and scaffold specific students at their point of need.
If software with built in scaffolds is not available, then the instructor could provide a similar environment by having an open classroom in which the students are provided with the expectations and a timeline at the onset. They may then choose to attend face-to-face classes, work independently, or work in groups. The more knowledgeable students, as well as the instructor, could then provide scaffolding in and out of the classroom. The hard scaffolds could be provided with textbooks and references and links on the class website. The instructor would still provide feedback on assignments and class work, be available for assistance, and scaffold specific individuals or groups at their point of need.
Appropriately, more responsibility is placed on the adult learner. Motivation comes from within and is based on the learner’s goals and objectives such as advanced degrees, career opportunities, and increased pay. Ultimately, the learner assumes a dual role in that they are students and peer instructors as they scaffold their classmates.
Challenges and Benefits of Scaffolding
As with any other learning theory or strategy, there are challenges and benefits to scaffolding. Understanding and comparing both will assist the educational professional or trainer in their assessment of the usefulness of the strategies and techniques as well as allow for comprehensive planning before implementation. The challenges are real but can be overcome with careful planning and preparation.
Very time consuming
Lack of sufficient personnel
Potential for misjudging the zone of proximal development; success hinges on identifying the area that is just beyond but not too far beyond students’ abilities
Inadequately modeling the desired behaviors, strategies or activities because the teacher has not fully considered the individual student’s needs, predilections, interests, and abilities (such as not showing a student how to “double click” on an icon when using a computer)
Full benefits not seen unless the instructors are properly trained
Requires the teacher to give up control as fading occurs
Lack of specific examples and tips in teacher’s editions of textbooks
When assessing the benefits of scaffolding, it is necessary to consider the context in which you wish to implement the strategies and techniques. Additionally, you must know the learners and evaluate their particular needs first.
Possible early identifier of giftedness
Provides individualized instruction
Greater assurance of the learner acquiring the desired skill, knowledge or ability
Provides differentiated instruction
Delivers efficiency – Since the work is structured, focused, and glitches have been reduced or eliminated prior to initiation, time on task is increased and efficiency in completing the activity is increased.
Creates momentum – Through the structure provided by scaffolding, students spend less time searching and more time on learning and discovering resulting in quicker learning
Engages the learner
Motivates the learner to learn
Minimizes the level of frustration for the learner
Effective Teaching Principles
Another major benefit of scaffolding is that it supports the ten principles of effective teaching highlighted in Ellis, Worthington and Larkin’s (n.d.) Executive Summary of the Research Synthesis on Effective Teaching Principles and the Design of Quality Tools for Educators. These ten principles are:
Principle 1: Students learn more when they are engaged actively during an instructional task.
Principle 2: High and moderate success rates are correlated positively with student learning outcomes, and low success rates are correlated negatively with student learning outcomes.
Principle 3: Increased opportunity to learn content is correlated positively with increased student achievement. Therefore, the more content covered, the greater the potential for student learning.
Principle 4: Students achieve more in classes in which they spend much of their time being directly taught or supervised by their teacher.
Principle 5: Students can become independent, self-regulated learners through instruction that is deliberately and carefully scaffolded.
Principle 6: The critical forms of knowledge associated with strategic learning are (a) declarative knowledge, (b) procedural knowledge, and (c) conditional knowledge. Each of these must be addressed if students are to become independent, self-regulated learners.
Principle 7: Learning is increased when teaching is presented in a manner that assists students in organizing, storing, and retrieving knowledge.
Principle 8: Students can become more independent, self-regulated learners through strategic instruction.
Principle 9: Students can become independent, self-regulated learners through instruction that is explicit.
Principle 10: By teaching sameness both within and across subjects, teachers promote the ability of students to access potentially relevant knowledge in novel problem-solving situations.
Each one of these principles can be supported (see red highlights) with the use of scaffolding. In our efforts to provide the best educational opportunities for all of our students, we must continue to research and test cutting-edge strategies and techniques while employing the tried and true methods of effective practice.

Andragogical approach and scaffolding

Andragogical Approach
Instruction is a two-way street; invite attendees to offer thoughts, chance to answer questions of others or perhaps something your not sure of yourself
Adult motivations include: economic, socialization, fun, status, self-actualization, etc.
User centered: in day/time offered, length of class, classes offered, etc. i.e. what is most convenient for the user not the instructor.
The notion of andragogy has been around for nearly two centuries. It became particularly popular in North America and Britain as a way of describing adult learning through the work of Malcolm Knowles. But what actually does it mean, and how useful a term is it when thinking about adult learning?
A German teacher, Alexander Kapp, originally formulated the term andragogy in 1833 (Nottingham Andragogy Group 1983: v). He used it to describe elements of Plato's education theory. Andragogy (andr- meaning 'man') could be contrasted with pedagogy (paid- meaning 'child' and agogos meaning 'leading') (see Davenport 1993: 114). Kapp's use of andragogy had some currency but it was disputed, and fell into disuse. It reappeared in 1921 in a report by Rosenstock in which he argued that 'adult education required special teachers, methods and philosophy, and he used the term andragogy to refer collectively to these special requirements' (Nottingham Andragogy Group 1983: v).
Eduard Lindeman was the first writer in English to pick up on Rosenstock's use of the term. The he only used it on two occasions. As Stewart, his biographer, comments, 'the new term seems to have impressed itself upon no one, not even its originators'. That may have been the case in North America, but in France, Yugoslavia and Holland the term was being used extensively 'to refer to the discipline which studies the adult education process or the science of adult education' (Nottingham Andragogy Group 1983: v).
In the minds of many around the adult education field, andragogy and the name of
Malcolm Knowles have become inextricably linked. For Knowles, andragogy is premised on at least four crucial assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners that are different from the assumptions about child learners on which traditional pedagogy is premised. A fifth was added later.
1. Self-concept: As a person matures his self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being
2. Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles.
4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centeredness.
5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal (Knowles 1984:12).
Each of these assertions and the claims of difference between andragogy and pedagogy are the subject of considerable debate. Useful critiques of the notion can be found in Davenport (1993) Jarvis (1977a) Tennant (1996) (see below). Here I want to make some general comments about Knowles' approach.
Some general issues with Knowles' approach
First, as Merriam and Caffarella (1991: 249) have pointed out, Knowles' conception of andragogy is an attempt to build a comprehensive theory (or model) of adult learning that is anchored in the characteristics of adult learners. Cross (1981: 248) also uses such perceived characteristics in a more limited attempt to offer a 'framework for thinking about what and how adults learn'. Such approaches may be contrasted with those that focus on:
· An adult's life situation (e.g. Knox 1986; Jarvis 1987a);
· Changes in consciousness (e.g. Mezirow 1983; 1990 or Freire 1972) (Merriam and Caffarella 1991).
Second, Knowles makes extensive use of a model of relationships derived from humanistic clinical psychology - and, in particular, the qualities of good facilitation argued for by Carl Rogers. However, Knowles adds in other elements, which owe a great deal to scientific curriculum making and behavior modification (and are thus somewhat at odds with Rogers). These encourage the learner to identify needs, set objectives, enter learning contracts and so on. In other words, he uses ideas from psychologists working in two quite different and opposing therapeutic traditions (the humanist and behavioral traditions). This means that there is a rather dodgy deficit model lurking around this model.
Third, it is not clear whether this is a theory or set of assumptions about learning, or a theory or model of teaching (Hartree 1984). We can see something of this in relation to the way he has defined andragogy as the art and science of helping adults learn as against pedagogy as the art and science of teaching children. There is an inconsistency here.
Hartree (1984) raises a further problem. Has Knowles provided us with a theory or a set of guidelines for practice? The assumptions 'can be read as descriptions of the adult learner... or as prescriptive statements about what the adult learner should be like' (Hartree 1984 quoted in Merriam and Caffarella 1991: 250). This links with the point made by Tennant - there seems to be a failure to set and interrogate these ideas within a coherent and consistent conceptual framework. As Jarvis (1987b) comments, throughout his writings there is a propensity to list characteristics of a phenomenon without interrogating the literature of the arena (e.g. as in the case of andragogy) or looking through the lens of a coherent conceptual system. Undoubtedly he had a number of important insights, but because they are not tempered by thorough analysis, they were hostage to fortune - they could be taken up in an historical or theoretical way.
The assumptions explored
With these things in mind we can look at the assumptions that Knowles makes about adult learners:
1. Self-concept: As a person matures his self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being. The point at which a person becomes an adult, according to Knowles, psychologically, 'is that point at which he perceives himself to be wholly self-directing. And at that point he also experiences a deep need to be perceived by others as being self-directing' (Knowles 1983: 56). As Brookfield (1986) points out, there is some confusion as to whether self-direction is meant here by Knowles to be an empirically verifiable indicator of adulthood. He does say explicitly that it is an assumption. However, there are some other immediate problems:
· Both Erikson and Piaget have argued that there are some elements of self-directedness in children's learning (Brookfield 1986: 93). Children are not dependent learners for much of the time, ‘quite the contrary, learning for them is an activity which is natural and spontaneous' (Tennant 1988: 21). It may be that Knowles was using ‘self-direction’ in a particular way here or needed to ask a further question - 'dependent or independent with respect to what?'
· The concept is culturally bound - it arises out of a particular (humanist) discourse about the self, which is largely North American in its expression. This was looked at last week - and will be returned to in future weeks.
2. Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. The next step is the belief that adults learn more effectively through experiential techniques of education such as discussion or problem solving (Knowles 1980: 43). The immediate problem we have is the unqualified way in which the statement is made. There may be times when experiential learning is not appropriate - such as when substantial amounts of new information are required. We have to ask the question, what is being learnt, before we can make judgments.
A second aspect here is whether children's and young people's experiences are any less real or less rich than those of adults. They may not have the accumulation of so many years, but the experiences they have are no less consuming, and still have to be returned to, entertained, and made sense of. Does the fact that they have 'less' supposed experience made any significant difference to the process? A reading of Dewey (1933) and the literature on reflection (e.g. Boud et al 1985) would support the argument that age and amount of experience makes no educational difference. If this is correct, then the case for the distinctiveness of adult learning is seriously damaged. This is of fundamental significance if, as Brookfield (1986: 98) suggests, this second assumption of andragogy 'can arguably lay claim to be viewed as a "given" in the literature of adult learning'.
3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles. As Tennant (1988: 21-22) puts it, 'it is difficult to see how this assumption has any implication at all for the process of learning, let alone how this process should be differentially applied to adults and children'. Children also have to perform social roles.
Knowles does, however, make some important points at this point about 'teachable' moments. The relevance of study or education becomes clear, as it is needed to carry out a particular task. At this point more ground can be made, as the subject seems relevant.
However, there are other problems. These appear when he goes on to discuss the implications of the assumption. 'Adult education programs, therefore, should be organized around 'life application' categories and sequenced according to learners readiness to learn' (1980: 44)
First, as Brookfield comments, these two assumptions can easily lead to a technological interpretation of learning that is highly reductionist. By this he means that things can become rather instrumental and move in the direction of competencies. Language like 'life application' categories reeks of skill-based models - where learning is reduced to a series of objectives and steps (a product orientation). We learn things that are useful rather than interesting or intriguing or because something fills us with awe. It also thoroughly underestimates just how much we learn for the pleasure it brings (see below).
Second, as Humphries (1988) has suggested, the way he treats social roles - as worker, as mother, as friend, and so on, takes as given the legitimacy of existing social relationships. In other words, there is a deep danger of reproducing oppressive forms.
4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centeredness. This is not something that Knowles sees as 'natural' but rather it is conditioned (1984: 11). It follows from this that if young children were not conditioned to be subject-centered then they would be problem-centered in their approach to learning. This has been very much the concern of progressives such as Dewey. The question here does not relate to age or maturity but to what may make for effective teaching. We also need to note here the assumption that adults have a greater wish for immediacy of application. Tennant (1988: 22) suggests that a reverse argument can be made for adults being better able to tolerate the postponed application of knowledge.
Last, Brookfield argues that the focus on competence and on 'problem-centredness' in Assumptions 3 and 4 undervalues the large amount of learning undertaken by adults for its innate fascination. Much of adults' most joyful and personally meaningful learning is undertaken with no specific goal in mind. It is unrelated to life tasks and instead represents a means by which adults can define themselves' (Brookfield 1986: 99).
5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal (Knowles 1984:12). Again, Knowles does not see this as something 'natural' but as conditioned - in particular, through schooling. This assumption sits awkwardly with the view that adults' readiness to learn is 'the result of the need to perform (externally imposed) social roles and that adults have a problem-centered (utilitarian) approach to learning' (Tennant 1988: 23).
In sum it could be said that these assumptions tend to focus on age and stage of development. As Ann Hanson (1996: 102) has argued, this has been at the expense of questions of purpose, or of the relationship between individual and society.
Andragogy and pedagogy
As we compare Knowles' versions of pedagogy and andragogy what we can see is a mirroring of the difference between what is known as the romantic and the classical curriculum (although this is confused by the introduction of behaviourist elements such as the learning contract). As Jarvis (1985) puts it, perhaps even more significantly is that for Knowles 'education from above' is pedagogy, while 'education of equals' is andragogy. As a result, the contrasts drawn are rather crude and do not reflect debates within the literature of curriculum and pedagogy.
A comparison of the assumptions of pedagogy and andragogy following Knowles (Jarvis 1985: 51)

The learner
Dependent. Teacher directs what, when, how a subject is learned and tests that it has been learned
Moves towards independence.
Self-directing. Teacher encourages and nurtures this movement
The learner's experience
Of little worth. Hence teaching methods are didactic
A rich resource for learning. Hence teaching methods include discussion, problem-solving etc.
Readiness to learn
People learn what society expects them to. So that the curriculum is standardized.
People learn what they need to know, so that learning programmes organised around life application.
Orientation to learning
Acquisition of subject matter. Curriculum organized by subjects.
Learning experiences should be based around experiences, since people are performance centred in their learning
We need to be extremely cautious about claiming that there is anything distinctive about andragogy. In his reference to romantic and classic notions of curriculum Jarvis (1985) brings out that what lies behind these formulations are competing conceptualizations of education itself. Crucially, these are not directly related to the age or social status of learners. There are various ways of categorizing strands of educational thinking and practice - and they are somewhat more complex than Knowles' setting of pedagogy against andragogy. In North American education debates, for example, four main forces can be identified in the twentieth century: the liberal educators; the scientific curriculum makers; the developmental/person-centered; and the social meliorists (those that sought more radical social change) (after Kliebart 1987). Another way of looking at these categories (although not totally accurate) is as those who see curriculum as:
· The transmission of knowledge,
· Product
· Process, and
· Praxis.
Viewed in this way - Knowles' version of pedagogy looks more like transmission; and andragogy, as represented in the chart, like process. But as we have seen, he mixes in other elements - especially some rather mechanistic assumptions and ideas that can be identified with scientific curriculum making.
Instructional Technology
In our Information Age, technology plays a role in nearly every aspect of life. To assist adult education programs in preparing students to become full participants in this 21st century environment, the instructional technology initiatives offer resources for integrating technology into the classroom. These resources build on foundation theories of literacy instruction, active learning strategies, and principles of learning.
Project-Based Learning and TechnologyUsing the Internet in InstructionBlogs, Podcasts, and WikisMedia LiteracyComputer Basics for Literacy InstructorsInstructional Technology & Media Literacy Links
Project-Based Learning and Technology
Our approach to instructional technology is founded on project-based learning (PBL), an instructional method that makes students active participants in their own education. Focusing on problem solving and product development, PBL helps students see how the skills and content they learned in the classroom can apply to real-life.
Guiding Documents on Using PBL in the Classroom
An Overview of Project-Based Learning
Project-Based Learning Worksheet (PDF)
Research on PBL
Evaluation of Project Based Learning.
Examples of Successful Projects
Civic Participation and Community Action Sourcebook
MUJER, Mothers United for Jobs, Education and Results
World Education’s Project Leaders
Grand Street Settlement Girls’ and Young Women’s Initiative
Using the Internet in Instruction
The Internet can provide access to information, promote active participation, and connect students to the world outside the classroom. However, it can also be overwhelming to new readers and English language learners. The following resources can help instructors make productive use of the Internet with their students.
Evaluating and Selecting Websites
Surfing for Substance A Professional Development Guide to Integrating the World Wide Web into Adult Literacy Instruction

Blogs, Podcasts, and Wikis
Use a
blog to post your thoughts, ideas, and learning.
Use a
podcast to connect directly to learning activities or create your own.
Use a
wiki to collaborate and share your learning.
Blog is short for weblog: a frequently updated online journal intended for general public consumption. Blogs’ content and quality vary greatly depending on the authors’ purpose. Many bloggers view their writing as an online diary (in reverse chronological order) with an audience. Weblogs began in mid-1990s with the advent of free web publishing tools.
A compilation of blogs

Technology and Literacy in Deaf Education
New Ways of Thinking about Literacy and Learning
Adult Literacy and Technology Blog
Podcasting makes audio files, usually in MP3 format, available online in a way that allows software to automatically download the files for listening at the user’s convenience.
Podcasts for
learning English
A podcast site by
Steve Quann
Podblaze site for ESL students

A wiki is a web application that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content. The term also refers to the software used to create such a website. The name is based on the Hawaiian term wiki wiki, meaning quick or informal.
Writing Together wiki
Adult Literacy Education wiki
Grassroots Literacy Coalition wiki
Wikipedia, the groundbreaking collaborative encyclopedia, is one of the best-known examples of wiki technology.

Media Literacy
In today’s media-saturated society, adult learners need to develop the skills to deconstruct and analyze messages designed to influence their opinions and decisions. At the same time, as media tools (such as video, digital, audio, and text-based instruments) become increasingly accessible, adult students have an opportunity to become not just critical consumers but also media producers. The LAC has developed its approach to media literacy instruction with both of these objectives in mind.
Introducing Media Literacy into the Classroom
Video Projects in the Classroom
Basic Camera Functions (PDF)
Tips for Making Digital Videos
Other Resources on Media and Video in the Classroom
Media Education: Eighteen Basic Principles
The Digital Documentary Project
Now Playing in Schools: Digital Video
Computer Basics for Literacy Instructors
If you’re new to integrating computer use in the classroom, you can start with these tools:
Evaluating and Selecting Software
Strengthening Your Technology Skills
Innovations in Pedagogy and Technology
I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.
—Ancient Chinese Proverb
Marshall Smith, chair of the workshop-planning group (and an officer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), opened the workshop by inviting participants “to look deeply at the issues of improving teaching and learning.” Smith’s emphasis on pedagogy was reflected in the workshop presentations and discussions. Although workshop participants believed that information technology (IT) has great potential to support improved science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) education, most agreed that there was nothing inherent in new technologies, by themselves that would determine improvement. The participants noted that when IT is used for administrative purposes (for example, an instructor posts the course syllabus on the Internet), it is unlikely to help students understand and master scientific and technical subjects. Presenters and discussants focused instead on using IT to enable innovations in pedagogy that can increase learning. Although such innovations are possible without technology, the capabilities of IT make them easier and more practical. The new approaches to teaching and learning discussed at the workshop reflect developments in SME&T education, cognitive science, and educational research.
Traditionally, SME&T courses at U.S. colleges and universities have been comprised of lectures and laboratory sessions. However, a growing body of research indicates that this traditional approach is not effective for all undergraduates. Cognitive scientists have found that students have different ways of learning and benefit from different educational approaches.