Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development

The zone of proximal development is the distance between an individual’s actual developmental level and his or her potential developmental level. Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, originally proposed this concept in 1934, but it was not until 1962 that his work was translated and introduced to an English-speaking audience. Since its introduction, the zone of proximal development has heavily informed pedagogical approaches used to educate both typically and atypically developing students. Vygotsky’s work is the foundation of sociocultural theories of learning, which are popular today in educational research. This entry describes the zone of proximal development and focuses specifically on the historical context in which it was first proposed, its utility in assessing and designing instruction, and how the concept has been used with students ...

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