Education Endowment Foundation:Voices from the classroom: Using scaffolds to support working memory

Voices from the classroom: Using scaffolds to support working memory

Rachael Cattrall
Rachael Cattrall
Content Specialist for Cognitive Science

Rachael Cattrall, our cognitive science specialist, introduces a new Voices from the Classroom video. 

Blog •1 minute •

In this Voices from the Classroom’ video, Sophie Law – Year 2 teacher at St Matthews Catholic Primary School – explains how she uses scaffolds to support her pupils’ learning by reducing strain on their working memories.

She explores several strategies for scaffolding, differentiating between pre-planned and in the moment’ scaffolds. The former, she explains, include visual and written scaffolds whilst the latter, refers to verbal cues and support from other adults in the room. Sophie also highlights the importance of seeing scaffolding as a temporary support to avoid overloading pupils’ cognitive load. She emphasises that knowledge of your pupils is key to understanding the level of scaffold to provide and when to adjust them.

Often, by providing scaffolds when they’re perhaps not needed, we risk actually increasing cognitive demands instead of reducing them” 

We hope this latest video supports colleagues to reflect on their own understanding of how scaffolds can be used to support working memory, and some different scaffolding methods.

Using scaffolds to help support working memory

If you want to explore information about working memory and some of the approaches mentioned in this video, you may want to read the EEF’s Cognitive Science Evidence Review:

  • Working memory – pg 10
  • Cognitive Load – pg 24
  • Use of scaffolds – pg 27 – 28

Sophie also refers to the EEF’s Making best use of Teaching Assistants Guidance Report