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Zone of Proximal Development

Lev Vygotsky is perhaps best known for the theoretical construct of the zone of proximal development (ZPD). The most often cited definition of the ZPD is “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). The metaphor of a physical space—a space that someone can use to move forward the development of someone else—seems to have a powerful appeal to many educators who wish to accelerate students’ cognitive development. However, in all of Vygotsky’s writings, there are only a handful that mention the ZPD, and many of these do so only briefly.

Perhaps because of this wide ...

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