Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scaffolding of Knowledge in Higher Education

By Dr. Irina A. Weisblat

Community colleges provide a nice step between high school and university life. The skills students learn can have a significant impact on how well they will do in a larger university system. Understanding how course sequencing can impact the learning process of basic skills is important for filling the gaps that could make a difference between success and failure. 

Sequencing works a lot like scaffolding. Each piece of knowledge fits together with other pieces of knowledge to create higher levels of thinking. Students that skip one series of learning can often be impacted at later stages of their learning process. How courses are sequenced and pieces of knowledge built on one another is a sign of the quality of a program. 

At times it is necessary to have researchers look how the information is sequenced throughout the program to ensure students are ready to take on more complex arguments and classes. You wouldn’t want to put business accounting before basic math or you can expect failure. Dr. Weisblat along with coauthors evaluated the progression of learning in one California community college district.

The Study

This study involved participation of one University and two community colleges, and Dr. Weisblat conducted this research with her colleagues from San Diego State University. Researchers explored the students’ preparedness for college and attainment of basic skills in California community colleges. The goal of the study was to identify the relationship among students’ varied entry-level skills, their progression of learning during the 2-year period, and success in English writing, reading, and math, as a result of following the sequence of courses intentionally designed by the faculty.  The study is published in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice (2014) and is available online at Taylor and Francis. 

Weisblat, I. et. al. (2014). Exploring Alignment of Community College Students for Preparedness and Achievement of Basic Skills. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 38 (1).  Retrieved

Irina A. Weisblat, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Forbes School of Business, Ashford University. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University (SDSU), a Master’s degree in Business Administration (Global MBA) from National University, San Diego, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with concentration in Teaching, from St. Petersburg University, Russia. Irina spent over 15 years in the corporate world, both in the United States and abroad. Some of the highlights of her business employment include such multi-national companies and leaders in technology as Honeywell, Qualcomm, and Ericsson.

In addition to her professional experience in business, Dr. Weisblat has been teaching various courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Her teaching repertoire includes business, management, and leadership courses. Her educational background, business expertise, substantial experience in higher education, and her leadership roles in professional organizations have influenced her research interests. Her research focuses on educational effectiveness and development of basic skills and global competencies in students. Dr. Weisblat’s doctoral dissertation was concerned with the effectiveness of business education in California. Specifically, her survey of California educators and business leaders explored the question of whether the skills and competencies that the colleges teach actually meet the needs of the global economy. Dr. Weisblat has presented her research findings at the state, regional, and international conferences, as well as the SDSU Research Symposium. In recognition of her scholarship, the National Business Education Association (NBEA) and the International Society of Business Education (ISBE) presented their Scholarship Achievement Awards to Dr. Weisblat. Twice, she received the Outstanding University Educator Award from the California Business Education Association (CBEA).

Dr. Weisblat co-authored the 2013 National Standards for Business Education, published articles in the refereed journals; and supplements for the Entrepreneurship textbook.

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