Scaffolding middle school students' content knowledge and ill-structured problem solving in a problem-based hypermedia learning environment

Tokel, Saniye Tuğba
Pedersen, Susan
This study investigated the effects of domain-general and domain-specific scaffolds with different levels of support, continuous and faded, on learning of scientific content and problem-solving. Students' scores on a multiple-choice pretest, posttest, and four recommendation forms were analyzed. Students' content knowledge in all conditions significantly increased from pretest to posttest. However, the continuous domain-specific condition outperformed the other conditions on the posttest. Although domain-general scaffolds were not as effective as domain-specific scaffolds on learning content and problem representation, they helped students develop solutions, make justifications, and monitor learning. Unlike domain-specific scaffolds, domain-general scaffolds helped students transfer problem-solving skills when they were faded. Several suggestions are discussed for making improvements in the design of scaffolds to facilitate ill-structured problem solving.