Scaffolding as a key role for teaching assistants: Perceptions of their pedagogical strategies

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Abstract

Background

Inclusive education policies have led to a worldwide increase in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) working in mainstream schools. TAs have a large amount of responsibility for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), a role which by default has become instructional in practice, and for which training and preparation are rarely adequate. While there is some research into the nature of TAs' interactions with pupils and the strategies they use which are helpful for children's learning, TAs' perspectives on their own classroom practice have yet to be explored.

Aims

To explore TAs' perceptions about their use of inclusive pedagogical strategies.

Sample

The study involved eleven TAs in two mainstream primary schools.

Methods

The TAs were interviewed face to face to explore their views about inclusive pedagogical strategies. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

TAs were clear about the strategies they use to offer emotional and relational support to children. There were some gaps, however, in their knowledge about how children learn, specifically in terms of transferring responsibility for learning onto children.

Conclusion

The study advances understanding of scaffolding from a TA perspective and highlights the importance of training TAs in scaffolding theory.

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