But remember that, after students have had practice with particular skills in isolation, they still need practice synthesizing and applying them in combination.
The goal of this form of scaffolding is to help students progress toward (not to avoid) more complexity and integration.
Sometimes the degree of mismatch is rather small, so there is no urgent need to take action.
Other times, the degree of mismatch is rather large with one assignment requiring key pieces of knowledge or skills that were not taught or practiced at all.
Even when students have had some critical thinking experience (in your course or elsewhere), the key question is whether they have been adequately prepared to do the kind of critical thinking you are expecting from them on a given assignment.
Instructors may not think of learning and performance this way because, for them, all the knowledge and skills associated with a given topic are so interconnected that knowing one piece is tantamount to knowing it all.
Instructional scaffolding refers to the process by which instructors provide students with cognitive supports early in their learning, and then gradually remove the support as students develop greater mastery and sophistication.
Here are two forms of scaffolding that can help students develop stronger critical thinking skills.
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