Fostering learner independence through heuristic scaffolding: A valuable role for teaching assistants

Julie Radford*, Paula Bosanquet, Rob Webster, Peter Blatchford, Christine Rubie-Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Teaching assistants currently play a key pedagogical role in supporting learners with special educational needs. Their practice is primarily oral, involving verbal differentiation of teacher talk or printed materials. In order to help students think for themselves, this paper argues that their practice should be informed by heuristic scaffolding. A substantial dataset from three teaching assistant projects was scrutinised for examples of heuristics. Using conversation analysis, the paper shows how assistance is negotiated and adjusted over a sequence of discourse. Four patterns of heuristic scaffolding are shown: heuristic modelling represents the highest level of support; heuristic questioning and prompting are jointly negotiated with the student. Self-scaffolding by students shows them taking responsibility for their own learning strategies. Implications for the school system are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Volume63
Early online date5 Aug 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Classroom talk
  • Conversation analysis
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Pedagogy
  • Scaffolding
  • Teaching assistants

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