In order for students to develop mastery in a particular field, there are many component skills they will need to gain in order to be successful. Therefore it can be particularly useful to spend time identifying those component skills and developing assignments or activities that aid students in developing those skills. This process can broadly be referred to as providing scaffolding for your course content.

Scaffolding Student Learning: Tips for Getting Started

This provides a basic overview of what scaffolding is and highlights the importance of making component skills explicit for students. Also see the links to sample assignments at the bottom of the article.

Tomorrow's Professor Msg.#849 Supporting Student Success Through Scaffolding

This posting below at five scaffolding strategies to help novice learners: Procedural Guidelines, Partial Solutions, Think-Alouds, Anticipating Student Errors, and Comprehension Checks.

IDEA paper: Promoting Deep Learning

This article makes a distinction between surface learning, where students are rote-memorizing course content, and deep learning, where students are able to grapple with difficult concepts in the field. The authors argue that "teaching for deep learning requires teachers to identify the most important elements in their course, and to design and develop sequenced activities that will enable students to grapple deeply with these key concepts or skills outside of class." They propose three potential activities/assignments that instructors can use to promote deep learning.


One of the skills that instructors often want students to master is reading the literature in your field, the following are resources to aid in teaching students to do this.

  • Teaching students to read journal articles
    This article highlights the CREATE method (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, Think of the next Experiment; Hoskins et al., 2007) for reading journal articles. This method clearly defines the component skills for reading journal articles that can help novices.
  • Decoding the Reading of History (Pace 2004)