The course is scaffolded to help you progress through key cognitive stages of understanding, analysis, application and reflection.

The meaning of "scaffolded" seems to be clear from the context. I think I can paraphrase like this: The course is designed... . Is my understanding correct?

I haven't found "scaffold" as a verb on https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scaffold and the Collins dictionary says that "to scaffold" means to provide with a scaffold or to support by means of a scaffold, which is related to building.

  • Found this: google.co.jp/… – shin Apr 2 '18 at 8:28
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    @BillJ The sentence is taken from a course overview created by the University of New South Wales. – Enguroo Apr 2 '18 at 9:06
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    Really? I'd call it a 'nonce-formation'', one that has no established use. – BillJ Apr 2 '18 at 9:12
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    @BillJ - FWIW, the OED lists scaffold as a verb to mean (figuratively) "to prop up," tracing usage back to the late 1600s. More recently, it's becoming a trendy word in higher ed. The Centre for Teaching and Learning at University of Toronto Scarborough published a booklet called Instructional Scaffolding; it cites several references that were published in the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as Designing appropriate scaffolding for student science projects (Journal of College Science Teaching, 2008). – J.R. Apr 2 '18 at 20:56
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    Helpful Link: What is Instructional Scaffolding? Excerpt: ...refers to the process of supporting students as they work to achieve educational goals that they would be unable to accomplish on their own. Just as construction workers add temporary scaffolding to buildings, teachers can use instructional scaffolding techniques to put temporary “props” in place as students “build up” their skills and knowledge. – J.R. Apr 2 '18 at 21:04

When a builder builds a house, they need a platform to stand on to reach the higher levels. So they build a scaffold.The scaffold provides support.

Metaphorically a scaffold is various techniques that allow a student to reach a higher level of learning by providing support. For example a teacher may start with "fill in the missing word" exercises. Then move on to short sentences, and end with full paragraphs.

If a course is scaffolded, it means it is designed to give appropriate support at all stages.


Winston Churchill wrote but never published an incisive article entitled, "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric" in which he outlines some principles of great oratory. Although he uses the word in the title, he never uses it in the body of the text. Given Churchill appreciation of Shakespeare, it may be that a scaffold or "scaffoldage" means the stage structure, which is how Shakespeare uses it, rather than as an exo- or temporary support structure. The difference is that the scaffold never leaves or no one ever dismantles it, and that the incidents or actions that take place upon it are distinct from it in substance, and finally that the scaffold's purpose is to enable people to see that which takes place upon it. Hence, a hanging takes place upon a "scaffoldage" (gallows, Shakespeare's T&R). But Churchill's use in the title of his article implies that "to scaffold" may suggest the action of supporting something. Hence, to scaffold an oration is to give it a structure that supports the hearers' appreciation of the substance of a speaker's oratory.

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