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Information Literacy in ENG2: An Instructor Guide: 1. Creating a Scaffold

What is Scaffolding?

Allyson Skene and Sarah Fedko (Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto) define scaffolding as "structuring assignments and course material in a systemic way to support [...] learning objectives and make the goals and process transparent to students."

Why Scaffold Assignments?

Scaffolding assignments allows students to focus on process through an emphasis on the singular elements of the research process, at points in time appropriate to their developing skillset. Instead of focusing on a summative product such as a research paper, students work on each stage separately in order to build up to more difficult tasks. At the same time, faculty can guide students experiencing difficulty back on track through providing feedback that leads to better student work.

Example of a Scaffolded Assignment

Stages of a Scaffolded Assignment

Possible Assignments for Each Stage
Topic Selection
  • Proposal
  • Identify broad topic idea
  • Thesis statement
  • Develop a research question
Background Information/"Presearch"
  • Brainstorming/Freewriting
  • Concept map
  • Identify contextual information
  • Refine broad topic
  • Revise initial proposal, thesis, or research question
  • Sharing findings in a CourseSite discussion forum
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Compose a research strategy
  • Research log
Evaluation of Sources
  • Compare and contrast sources (popular, scholarly, trade)
  • Critique a source
  • Investigate a scholar
  • Literature review
  • Outline
  • First draft
  • Peer comments
Final Draft
  • Final draft
  • Summative statement or self-assessment
  • Research reflection