Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:00

Scaffolding Outcomes

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Scaffolding Outcomes
© Microsoft®

Scaffolding learning is a term that is often used in education, but it is not always clear what it means.

Scaffolding: a temporary structure on the outside of a building for workers to perform tasks above the ground.

Educational Scaffolding: providing temporary supports or frameworks for learners so they can learn to perform tasks previously above their skill level.  Supports are removed as students begin to achieve mastery and can perform on their own.

You may want to read the following articles before proceeding with this article:
Learning Domains
Bloom’s Taxonomy
Writing Outcomes

Steps to Scaffolding

  1. The first step is writing down the outcome you want students to achieve.  You will find these in the course outline.  They are usually at the higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

    Outcome: Devise a client nursing care plan
    Bloom’s Taxonomy Level: synthesis

© (2006). (Alford, Herbert and Fragenheim). Bloom's Taxonomy. retrieved from and communication of this material is permitted under the Fair Dealing provision of the Canadian Copyright Act

  1. The next step is to assess what level your students are currently at.  Are they at the knowledge level or are they at the comprehension level and ready to apply their knowledge?  Or are they higher up still?

  2. Once you have assessed where they are at, write the outcomes they need to achieve before they can achieve the higher-level course outcome.  In the example outcome above, if a student has limited knowledge of a care plan, it is unlikely they will be able to write one without some scaffolding.  As the description below demonstrates, they might first need to identify what a care plan is and then explain the importance of each component.



Devise a client nursing care plan


Review various client nursing care plans and identify strengths and weaknesses


Use a previously created client nursing care plan in clinical rounds


Explain the importance of each component of a client nursing care plan


Identify the components of a client nursing care plan

In the video Scaffolding Outcomes Using Bloom’s Taxonomy [13:59], I work with a small group of instructors to practice scaffolding.

Scaffolding is essential, but can be tricky when you are new.  Do you have any tricks or questions to share with the community?  Put them in the comments section below.


Lethbridge College. (2013). Scaffolding Outcomes Using Bloom’s Taxonomy [video].

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Christie Robertson

I remember what it was like being a new instructor: too many questions and too many resources to sift through. My goal as a writer for Learning Connections is to help instructors with common teaching issues, whether they are f-2-f, blended or online. I want answers to those frequently asked question to be easy to find!