Zone of proximal development

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Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) - the difference between what a learner can do independently and what the same learner can do when tutored (Vygotsky, 1978).

“the distance between a child's actual developmental level as determined through independent problem solving and [his or her] potential development [level] as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or a collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978). [1], retrieved 15:03, 11 July 2007 (MEST).”

“Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): This is Lev Vygotsky's term for the time between which a child can solve a certain problem only with help from another and the time when the child can solve the same problem on their own. Vygotsky believed that the ZPD was a crucial time for full social engagement of the child in order to achieve maximum learning. [2], retrieved 15:03, 11 July 2007 (MEST).”

“Vygotskian learning theory does not deny that knowledge construction is individual or that learning is a manifestation of the hardwiring of the brain. It does argue that the guidance given by more capable others allows the child to engage in levels of activity that could not be managed alone. This guidance occurs in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) which, put simply, is the difference between what a learner can do independently and what can be accomplished cognitively with scaffolding from more knowledgeable others. Information technologies in education, retrieved 15:03, 11 July 2007 (MEST)”

“The zone of proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state. These functions could be termed the "buds" or "flowers" of development rather than the "fruits" of development. The actual developmental level characterizes mental development retrospectively, while the zone of proximal development characterizes mental development prospectively (Vygotsky, 1978:87).”

See also:

In education

The ZPD is popular in many educational theories and instructional design models, e.g. see:



Marsh, George E. and John J. Ketterer, Situating the Zone of Proximal Development . Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume VIII, Number II Summer 2005. HTML, retrieved 15:03, 11 July 2007 (MEST).

Parkes, R. J. (2000a). On the Subject of Pedagogies : Contributions of Vygotskian Theory to Radical Pedagogy as a Postmodern Practice, proceedings of Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), Sydney University, December 4-7, 2000

Parkes, R. J. (2000b). The crisis in pedagogy. In M. O'Loughlin (Ed.). Philosophy of education in the new millenium: Conference proceedings, Vol. 2 (pp.73-87). University of Sydney (Australia).

Vare, J. W. (1993). Co-constructing the zone: A neo-Vygotskian view of microteaching. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED360 285).

Vygotsky, Lev (1934). Thinking and Speaking. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Written 1934: Edited and translated in 1962 by Eugenia Hanfmann and Gertrude Vakar. Translated in french in 1997: Pensée et langage, La Dispute, Paris, 353 p.

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

Wells, G. (1995). Language and the inquiry-oriented curriculum. Curriculum Inquiry, 25(3), 233-269.

Wells, G. (in press). Thinking with Vygotsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wood, D., Wood, H. (1996) Vygotsky, Tutoring and Learning. Vygotsky and Education. Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 5-16