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Zone of Proximal Development

Posted in Ed Tech 101 on January 14, 2014 by

What is “Zone of Proximal Development”?

Zone of proximal development is defined as the difference between what a learner can do independently and what a learner can do with the help of a parent, teacher, coach or other authority. Introduced by Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, the concept is premised on the idea that most learning involves a student’s progression from dependence to independence with respect to completing a specified task.

Many educators believe that they should assign students tasks and activities that fall within students’ “zone of proximal development,” thereby challenging them to master tasks that they are not quite able to complete without outside help. As students master more skills, the “zone of proximal development” shifts to more advanced material. The concept is tightly associated with the notion of “scaffolding,” in which students receive assistance in the form of hints, directions, guidelines, modeling, or coaching in order to complete an activity.

Here at Knewton, we love geeking out over edtech – the people, the technology, and its potential to change the world. As part of our participation in the community, we’re putting together an “Ed Tech 101” glossary to explore the language itself – the buzzwords, the jargon, the neologisms, and everything in between. Have an ed tech word or phrase you’d like us to feature? Leave a comment!