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A Framework for Designing Scaffolds that Improve Motivation and Cognition

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Educational Psychologist Volume 48, Number 4, ISSN 0046-1520


A problematic, yet common, assumption among educational researchers is that when teachers provide authentic, problem-based experiences, students will automatically be engaged. Evidence indicates that this is often not the case. In this article, we discuss (a) problems with ignoring motivation in the design of learning environments, (b) problem-based learning and scaffolding as one way to help, (c) how scaffolding has strayed from what was originally equal parts motivational and cognitive support, and (d) a conceptual framework for the design of scaffolds that can enhance motivation as well as cognitive outcomes. We propose guidelines for the design of computer-based scaffolds to promote motivation and engagement while students are solving authentic problems. Remaining questions and suggestions for future research are then discussed.


Belland, B.R., Kim, C. & Hannafin, M.J. (2013). A Framework for Designing Scaffolds that Improve Motivation and Cognition. Educational Psychologist, 48(4), 243-270. Retrieved August 4, 2020 from .

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