Promoting learning in online, ill-structured problem solving: The effects of scaffolding type and metacognition level

Joo Yeun Kim, Kyu Yon Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This study aims to identify the effects of scaffolding type (supportive or reflective)and metacognition level (low or high)on presence, problem-solving performance, and achievement in online ill-structured problem solving. One hundred forty-eight students who enrolled in a college-level course on instructional design participated in this study in South Korea. The course was delivered as eight sessions led by the same instructor using the same content, and four of them were provided with supportive scaffolding, while the other four with reflective scaffolding. All of them were given an ill-structured problem of designing a lesson plan for a three-week project in a web-based learning environment without any face-to-face classes or meetings, and were asked to go through five stages of problem-solving. Metacognition and presence were measured using survey instruments, while problem-solving performance and achievement were measured using a rubric and quiz items, respectively. Data were analyzed using two-way MANOVA and ANCOVA, using pretest scores as a covariate. The results indicated that the reflective scaffolding group scored higher on cognitive and social presence, and also on problem representation, monitoring and evaluation in problem-solving performance than the supportive scaffolding group. The reflective scaffolding group also showed higher achievement than did the supportive scaffolding group. There was a significant interaction effect between scaffolding types and metacognition level on teaching presence and achievement. The results provide implications on the design of scaffolding for online ill-structured problem solving activities in association with learner characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-129
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Ill-structured problem solving
  • Metacognition
  • Presence
  • Problem-solving performance
  • Scaffolding


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