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Version 1.2 – Updated June 2023

Scaffolding and situated learning


  • Influence: Scaffolding and situated learning
  • Domain: Teaching Strategies
  • Sub-Domain: Instructional strategies
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Potential to considerably accelerate
  • Influence Definition: Situated learning is premised on the assumption that learning takes place in a social context, and that students will learn best if the subject matter is taught in a meaningful, realistic, and contextually rich way that enables students to understand its relationship to what they already know. Advocates of situated learning suggest that it depends upon scaffolding, a common educational practice by which a teacher establishes and then gradually removes outside assistance that enable students to complete educational tasks. Situated learning involves students in cooperative activities where they are challenged to use their critical thinking and kinesthetic abilities.


  • Number of meta-analyses: 7
  • Number of studies: 274
  • Number of students: 16,084
  • Number of effects: 681
  • Weighted mean effect size: 0.52
  • Robustness index: 4


Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Educational Technology and Society Belland, Walker, Olsen, & Leary USA A pilot meta-analysis of computer-based scaffolding in STEM education 2015 Scaffolding on achievement 7 0 17 0.53
Book Belland, Walker, Olsen, & Leary USA Habitus, scaffolding, and problem-based learning: Why teachers' experiences as students matter 2012 Scaffolding on STEM outcomes 144 0 333 0.46
Educational Psychology Review Cai, Mao, Wang, He, Chen, & Fan China Effects of Scaffolding in Digital Game-Based Learning on Student's Achievement: a Three-Level Meta-analysis. 2022 Scaffolding in digital games 49 5,906 154 0.43
International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning Doo, Bonk, & Heo Korea A meta-analysis of scaffolding effects in online learning in higher education.  2020 Scaffolding in elearning 18 4,852 68 0.87
Early Education and Development Pesco & Gagne Canada Early Education and Development 2017 Scaffolding 15 0 28 0.61
Education Psychological Review Vogel, Wecker, Kollar, & Fischer Germany Socio-cognitive scaffolding with computer-supported collaboration scripts: A meta-analysis 2017 Scaffolding with Computer supported collaboration scripts 22 2,825 45 0.20
Dissertation Kim USA The Effect of Situated Learning on Knowledge Transfer of Students with and without Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms: A Meta-Analysis 2012 Situated learning 19 2,501 36 1.12
TOTAL/AVERAGE 274 16,084 681 0.60
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