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Keyword of Educational Technology

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Zone of proximal development

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lev Vygotsky's notion of zone of proximal development (зона ближайшего развития), often abbreviated ZPD, is the gap between a learner's current or actual level of development determined by independent problem-solving and the learner's emerging or potential level of development. Vygotsky's often quoted definition of zone of proximal development presents it as

the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86, [1] )

That is, it is the set of knowledge that the learner has the ability to learn currently but does not yet understand -- things that are "just out of reach". ZPD theory implies that a personís capability to learn has no upper boundary and what one learns with the aid of others today can be done independently tomorrow. ZPD has also been expressed as the area in which students are challenged to learn, but learning is not too difficult nor too easy.

Vygotskian thought and the concept of ZPD directly influenced both educational theory and practice in Europe (D.B. El'konin, Davydov, Repkin, Lompscher, Zuckerman, B.D. El'konin, etc.) and in the North America (Wertsch, Cole, Rogoff; A.L. Brown, Campione, Palincsar, Wells, etc.). It was also instrumental in the research on Dynamic assessment (Lidz, Brown, Campione, etc.).


  • Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Chaiklin, S. (2003) The Zone of Proximal Development in Vygotsky's Analysis of Learning and Instruction. In Kozulin, A., Gindis, B., Ageyev, V. & Miller, S. (Eds.) Vygotsky's Educational Theory and Practice in Cultural Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press



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