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This is a synthesis grant. In it, we use meta-analysis to synthesize quantitative research on scaffolding and scaffolding-related interventions in STEM fields, including but not necessarily limited to biology, chemistry, physics, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This project builds off of our pilot work, which has recently been published: 2. Belland, B. R., Walker, A. E., Olsen, M. W., & Leary, H. (2015). A pilot meta-analysis of computer-based scaffolding in STEM education. Educational Technology and Society, 18(1), 183-197. Available online:

Brian Beland, Principal Investigator

Andy Walker, Co-PI

NamJu Kim, Graduate Student

Mason Lefler, Graduate Student


The project team will search widely for empirical articles on scaffolding and scaffolding-related interventions throughout STEM disciplines, code articles that meet inclusion criteria, and analyze the data to determine the influence of scaffold characteristics, study and assessment instrument quality, and assessment type on cognitive outcomes in K-Adult STEM education.


This project is important because currently there is a lack of comprehensive assessment of what works in scaffolding in STEM education. Such a lack hinders scaffold designers' abilities to create the most effective scaffolds they can, and causes educators to have poor guidance on what the research says works best in scaffolding. This research will identify scaffolding features and contexts of use that lead to strong learning outcomes in STEM.


The project will lead to three publically available outputs. The first is a publically available database of primary source literature on scaffolding that can be used by researchers, scaffold designers, and educators to (a) find scaffolding-related references, (b) conduct power analyses, and (c) find the magnitude of effects for various scaffolding strategies, paired interventions, intended outcomes, and other characteristics. The second class of outputs will be open-access publications - a traditional meta-analysis article, an article focused on scaffolding features, an article targeted to K-12 teachers, and an open-access book that will go in depth into scaffolding designs and associated efficacy data in diverse STEM disciplines. Finally, webinars will be conducted with members of different STEM disciplinary and teacher communities to introduce (a) scaffolding and related interventions, (b) associated efficacy information, and (c) an appropriate article from this project.