Instructional Scaffolding in Internships: Supporting future professionals in Family Science


  • Katy Gregg Georgia Southern Univerity
  • Meghan K Dove
  • Nikki DiGregorio Georgia Southern University


Internships, experiential learning, higher education


Internships are known for being a valuable, albeit time consuming, opportunity for students, supervisors, and faculty in many fields. As undergraduate programs consider their current and future internship programs, we suggest the processes an intern takes to secure and complete an internship are key to furthering their learning and increasing their career marketability. In this article, we use scaffolding and self-efficacy theories as the foundation to developing an intentional internship program in the family science field. We share the steps faculty take to prepare students for the internship, use graduated guidance to support student learning, and to assess learning during the internship. This hybrid approach combines quality online learning with on-site application and readily lends itself to replication in other disciplines. 

Author Biographies

Katy Gregg, Georgia Southern Univerity

Associate Professor of Child and Family Development

School of Human Ecology

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences 

Georgia Southern University

Meghan K Dove

Independent Research Consultant

Bishop, GA

Nikki DiGregorio, Georgia Southern University

Associate Professor of Child and Family Development

School of Human Ecology

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences 

Georgia Southern Univerity 


Author. (2018). [Title redacted].

Ballard, S. M., & Carroll, E. B. (2005). Internship practices in family studies programs. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 97(4), 11-17.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. Retrieved from

Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 8, 117-148. Retrieved from

Brobst, J. A. (2013). A little help from my friends: Testing the utility of Facebook groups as online communities in an undergraduate research internship (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database. (UMI No. 3612932).

Celio, Durlak, & Dynmnicki (2011) A Meta-analysis of the Impact of Service-Learning on Students. Journal of Experiential Education, 34(2), 164-181.

Gonyea, J. L. J. & Kozak, M. S. (2014). Scaffolding Family Science student experiences to increase employment options and preparedness. Family Science Review, 19, 26-36.

Harland, T. (2003). Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and problem-based learning: Linking a theoretical concept with practice through action research. Teaching in Higher, 2, 263-272. doi: 10.1080/1356251032000052483

Pea, R. D. (2004). The social and technological dimensions of scaffolding and related theoretical concepts for learning, education, and human activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13, 423-451. Retrieved from

Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80(1), 1 - 28. Retrieved from

Standards from the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric, 6th Edition. Quality Matters. Retrieved from

Vygotsky (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wass, R., Harland, T., & Mercer, A. (2011). Scaffolding critical thinking in the zone of proximal development. Higher Education Research and Development, 30, 317-328.

Wilson, K. & Devereux, L. (2014). Scaffolding theory: High challenge, high support in academic language and learning (ALL) contexts. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 8(3), 91-100.

Zlotkowski, E., & Duffy, D. (2010) Two decades of community-based learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 123, 33-43. doi:10.1002/tl.407