Synergy: A Complement to Emerging Patterns of Distributed Scaffolding

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239 Scopus citations


In this article, I examine distributed scaffolding, an emerging approach in the design of supports for rich learning environments intended to help students develop disciplinary ways of knowing, doing, and communicating. Distributed scaffolding incorporates multiple forms of support that are provided through different means to address the complex and diverse learning needs that arise in such settings. I synthesize research to date to articulate three patterns of distributed scaffolding and the pedagogical considerations that they target. I introduce synergy as a pattern that has not received much attention in the past. Synergy refers to the characteristic that different components of distributed scaffolding, such as software supports and teacher coaching, address the same learning need and interact with each other to produce a robust form of support. I illustrate this pattern through classroom examples and discuss the scaffolding functions that it can fulfill. I conclude with implications for the principled design of distributed scaffolding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-335
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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