The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is defined as the difference between what a learner can master independently and what can be achieved through the assistance of someone more knowledgeable. This concept, introduced by Russian social psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934), suggests that when a learner is in the ZPD, providing appropriate assistance through the process of collaboration will enable the less knowledgeable person to master the task independently. The less knowledgeable person, when assisted within his or her ZPD by a more knowledgeable person, becomes independently proficient at what was initially a jointly accomplished task. It was Vygotsky’s belief that the most effective learning occurs within one’s ZPD.

Although ZPD was not a central concept in Vygotsky’s original theory of child development, over time it became ...

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