Teach explicitly

Learning in the tertiary domain is multi-dimensional: from the initial transitions into Western academic literacies, through to workplace and research skills.

To be successful in their studies, students need to be supported across the following three dimensions:

Dimension    

Requires

1. Academic

An understanding of university cultures, processes, expectations and language. For example, how to read a course guide, how to reference work, how to avoid plagiarism, how to structure an essay and how to take notes.

2. Discipline

An understanding of the ‘content’ knowledge of a particular field of study as well as how to participate in the ‘discourse’ of a chosen discipline, ie an understanding of the cultural rules and norms around that discipline.

3. Generic

Generic skills are the broad skills graduates will need in the workforce. RMIT’s Graduate Attributes prepare students to be work-ready, global in their outlook and competence, environmentally, culturally and socially aware and responsive citizens, and innovative and active life-long learners.

A ‘scaffolded’ approach to teaching allows educators to effectively support students to participate across the above dimensions through explicit instruction.

The term ‘scaffolding’ is analogous to the scaffolding used when constructing a building. Significant scaffolding is used as construction begins, but as the building begins to take shape, the scaffolding is removed in stages until the buildings stands on its own. In education, teaching is ‘scaffolded’ when students are supported to perform a task that they would be unable to achieve on their own. The teacher ensures all knowledge or understanding necessary to successfully perform an activity is made explicit to students, rather than just expecting that students will have the necessary experience or knowledge to know how to perform a task.