Scaffolding for workplace learning and performance

Scaffolding for workplace learning and performance

Scaffolding is a well-established technique that has been proven to support learning. Studies have shown that scaffolding can be an effective tool in the areas of collaboration, facilitation, teaching, training, and coaching. Traditionally, scaffolding has been used in educational settings, but I believe that it can also be a valuable tool in the workplace, particularly for hybrid and asynchronous teams.

The theory of scaffolding was first introduced by Jerome Bruner, an American psychologist. In his view, Bruner suggests that learning occurs through social interactions, where more knowledgeable individuals provide support to less knowledgeable ones. The support provided is called scaffolding, and it is designed to help learners move from their current level of understanding to a higher level.

In the workplace, scaffolding can be used to help new employees learn the ropes, whether it's through training, onboarding, or on-the-job learning. It can also be used to help existing employees develop new skills or adapt to changes in their roles. By providing support that is tailored to each team's needs, scaffolding can help employees feel more confident and capable in their work, leading to better performance and job satisfaction.

One of the key benefits of using scaffolding in the workplace is that it can help bridge the gap between hybrid and asynchronous teams. With many teams now working remotely or across different time zones, it can be challenging to provide the same level of support to everyone. Scaffolding can help by providing a structure for learning that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or schedule.

For example, imagine a new employee joining a hybrid team. In a traditional setting, they might spend their first few days shadowing colleagues, attending training sessions, and asking questions as they go. But in a hybrid setting, this kind of support might not be possible. By using scaffolding, however, the team can provide the new employee with a clear framework for working, including sessions, tools, and support from colleagues. This can help the employee feel more connected to the team and confident in their ability to do their job.

Scaffolding can also play a critical role in helping employees retain what they have learned. One of the reasons for this is that scaffolding involves providing support in a structured and gradual manner, with the support being gradually removed as employees become more confident. This approach ensures that employees are never overwhelmed with information or left feeling unsupported, which can be a major impediment to learning.

By providing frameworks that are always accessible, scaffolding can help reinforce learning. For example, an employee might have access to resources such as sessions that they can utilise whenever they need them. These sessions can help employees review and reinforce what they have learned, which can be particularly helpful for those who need extra time to master a new skill or concept.

Moreover, it can help employees see how different pieces of information or concepts fit together, which can enhance their understanding and ability to apply what they have learned. For instance, an employee might begin by learning basic frameworks, but then gradually move on to more complex tasks that build on those frameworks. By providing support at each stage of the learning process, scaffolding can help employees connect the dots and understand the bigger picture.

Scaffolding is a powerful technique that can help employees develop a sense of ownership over their learning. By tailoring frameworks to meet the specific needs of their team, employees are empowered to take charge of their professional development. This sense of ownership can lead to higher engagement, greater job satisfaction, and better performance over time.

While it has traditionally been used in educational settings, its potential in the workplace is vast, particularly for hybrid and asynchronous teams. By providing accessible frameworks and resources, we can support employees in their learning and growth, ultimately leading to higher-quality outputs and job satisfaction.