A scaffolding strategy for helping lower secondary science students construct scientific explanations for experimental based questions in science


  • Deborah Goh Ministry of Education Singapore
  • Zulaiha Shireen Ministry of Education Singapore


action research, scaffolding strategy, connective approach, zone of proximal development


The study of Science in essence involves the explanation of phenomena by inferring the reasons for occurrences and justifying the significance of the observed event (Nagel, 1961; McNeil & Krajcik, 2008). This raises a challenge for the educator: How can we equip students with the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions for answering science questions? This research study responds to this challenge by doing five things. First, it adopts an action strategy with reference to Feldman’s approach to art criticism- DINE (whereby “D” is describe, “IN” is interpret, “E” is evaluate). Students adopt this action strategy to construct arguments and explanations needed for phenomena posed on them. Second, it incorporates a bite-size classroom-teaching to equip students with the pre-requisite knowledge. During teaching, an educator teaches directly on a “need-to-know” basis and with focus on context that can help students move forward in their inquiry with DINE. Third, it introduces a set of focal lessons for students to work on. Each focal lesson comprises a set of step-by-step instructions and tasks to be carried out by students. Each task takes into consideration the appropriate zone of proximal development (ZPD) whereby the level of potential development is determined through problem solving in collaboration with fellow students (Vygotsky, 1978). Fourth, it provides the justifications for our integrated use of DINE, Bite-Size Teaching, and Focal Lesson as a collective whole via the Connective Approach as described in the work of Strawson (1992), Tay (2003), and Tay et al (2010).  Lastly, it demonstrates the cycles that one goes through when embarking on an action research journey.