Scaffolding and integrated assessment in computer assisted learning (CAL) for children with learning disabilities

Ivan L. Beale


Computer assisted learning (CAL) can involve a computerised intelligent learning environment, defined as an environment capable of automatically, dynamically and continuously adapting to the learning context. One aspect of this adaptive capability involves automatic adjustment of instructional procedures in response to each learner's performance, to facilitate the ease of learning and to minimise errors during learning. This process of dynamically varying the help provided to the learner by the instructor has been termed scaffolding. A bonus from using scaffolding is that the programming algorithms by which scaffolding is achieved allow integrated assessment of the learner's performance. This paper outlines the nature and origins of scaffolding concepts and illustrates their application as instructional design strategies in an experimental intelligent learning environment designed to teach basic reading skills to children with learning disabilities. The paper also illustrates the role of integrated assessment as an essential component of scaffolding and as a means of monitoring and recording the learning process.

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