Computer-Based Scaffolding for Sustainable Project-Based Learning: Impact on High- and Low-Achieving Students

Jun Peng, Bei Yuan, Meng Sun, Meilin Jiang, Minhong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Project-based learning, in which students engage in meaningful learning with authentic projects and building agency and autonomy for sustainable learning, has been increasingly promoted in higher education. However, completing an authentic project involves a complex process, which may pose challenges to many students, especially low-achievers. This study incorporated computer-based scaffolding into a project-based programming course to make complex project learning accessible to students. The scaffolding was designed based on the four-component instructional design (4C/ID) model. The results show that with the support of computer-based scaffolding, all participants maintained a high level of motivation during the course. At the end of the course, their performance was improved by 35.49% in product quality and 38.98% in subject knowledge; their programming thinking skills were improved by 20.91% in problem understanding, 21.86% in modular design, and 25.70% in process design. Despite academic achievement discrepancies among the participants at the beginning of the course, low-achievers’ post-study performance in product quality and programming thinking skills became similar to that of high-achievers, and their post-study performance in subject knowledge became similar to that of medium-achievers. The findings reveal the promising role of computer-based scaffolding in making complex learning with real-world projects accomplishable by a wide range of students and reducing the gaps between high- and low-achieving students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12907
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • computer programming
  • computer-based scaffolding
  • low-achieving students
  • project-based learning
  • sustainable learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Computer-Based Scaffolding for Sustainable Project-Based Learning: Impact on High- and Low-Achieving Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this