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ERIC Number: EJ1165886
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jan
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Scaffolding for Access to Productive Struggle
Barlow, Angela T.; Gerstenschlager, Natasha E.; Strayer, Jeremy F.; Lischka, Alyson E.; Stephens, D. Christopher; Hartland, Kristin S.; Willingham, J. Christopher
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v23 n4 p202-207 Jan 2018
This article begins by describing a class scenario in which a teacher gives her students the L problem (Watanabe 2008), which involves finding the area of a composite figure. Her students inappropriately extend the area formula for rectangles (A = L x W) to composite figures by multiplying all given dimensions. After class, the teacher concluded that although her students struggled, they did not struggle productively: they did not make sense of the mathematical ideas embedded within the task. She wondered what role might scaffolding have played before the task was assigned, to provide students with access to productive struggle. The purpose of this article is to introduce scaffolding as a way to provide access to productive struggle. Following a discussion of traditional views of scaffolding, the authors introduce a new function for scaffolding. Next, they return to the L problem to consider how this new function for scaffolding can be applied to support productive struggle. Finally, they conclude with strategies, such as eliciting prior knowledge, delaying the question, and introducing a simpler problem, for planning access to productive struggle.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-9840; Fax: 703-476-2570; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A