The professor works with the student to help him to learn how to approach the philosophy book and how to consider the right questions to ask himself while reading alone. An aspiring baker creates amazing cakes when working with her mentor, but alone finds that she is struggling.
By working with her mentor, the baker is able to learn what she needs in order to independently create the product she desires. Vygotsky's work regarding the zone of proximal development has contributed greatly to the field of education and is used in developing age appropriate curriculum and teaching techniques.
This process is referred to as scaffolding, which is the way in which an adult helps the child learner to move from the inability to perform a task to being able to do so through guidance, interaction and questions. Reviewing these examples will hopefully help you to better understand how the zone of proximal development works in the real world.
This concept, highly influential in educational psychology, was first introduced by Russian psychologist LEV Vygotsky in the 1930s. Vygotsky recognized that a certain amount of learning happens automatically as children mature, a notion championed by developmental psychologists like Jean Piaget.
However, Vygotsky also believed that in order to advance their learning even further, children must engage in social interaction with “more knowledgeable others.” These more knowledgeable others, like parents and teachers, introduce children to the tools and skills of their culture, such as writing, math, and science.
“The zone of proximal development 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.” In the zone of proximal development, the learner is close to developing the new skill or knowledge, but they need assistance and encouragement. Scaffolding refers to the support given to the learner who is attempting to learn something new in the zone of proximal development.
When the student first begins to learn the new concept, the teacher will offer a great deal of support. Over time, the support is gradually tapered off until the learner has fully mastered the new skill or activity.
Next, the training wheels will come off and a parent or other adult may run alongside the bicycle helping the child to steer and balance. Scaffolding is typically discussed in conjunction with the zone of proximal development, but Vygotsky himself did not coin the term.
Meanwhile, the teacher continues to offer assistance as needed, reducing the amount of support they provide over time. The Zone of ProximalDevelopment is an idea that refers to the gap between what a learner can learn and what a teacher can teach.
For example, no one needs to help you read a blueprint or use basic hand tools. Going back to my example, you may not know how to build a home or delegate these tasks to a team.
You need the ability to use hand tools and read a blueprint, but it’s just one component of building a house. A master carpenter can lead you through framing a few times before you can do this skill on your own or delegate this task to a team.
Effective Mos simply offer guidance, tips, and suggestions. The right guidance may also depend on the student’s acquired skills and the way in which they learn best.
Vygotsky defined an KO as someone who had a better understanding of a skill, task, or concept than the person learning. Vygotsky developed the Zone of ProximalDevelopment in the last three years of his life.
His work is so influential that other concepts in education have become synonymous with his name and ideas. When many educators discuss the PD, they follow up with an explanation of Scaffolding.
While Vygotsky never mentioned anything about “scaffolding,” the psychologists who coined the term did so while studying his work. Scaffolding is the idea that skills must be learned in a specific order, without jumping around.
As the student moves “up” the scaffold and acquires new skills, less and less instruction from a teacher will be required. Assessing the student’s current knowledge and their Zone of ProximalDevelopment is also crucial to scaffolding.
If a teacher “missed” a step, the student would have a significantly harder time learning the skill at hand. Everyone’s Zone of ProximalDevelopment is different, and your personal PD will move as you start to learn new knowledge and skills.
This could be a tutor, teacher, peer, or expert in a specific trade. You can read a blueprint and use basic hand tools, but wouldn’t even know where to begin building a house.
As you continue to climb the scaffold, you will reach your final goals and skills. The core idea of the PD is that a more knowledgeable person can enhance a student’s learning by guiding them through a task slightly above their ability level.
The idea of the PD came from a Russian psychologist named LEV Vygotsky in the early 1900s. He referred to the level an individual can achieve with help as their PD.
The person performing the scaffolding can be a teacher, a parent, or even a peer. Scaffolding and the PD are often used in preschool and elementary classrooms, but the same principles can be applied outside a school setting.
A parent teaching a child how to ride a bike or a coach walking an athlete through how to throw a ball are also an example of these concepts. This category includes everything a person can do without help from a more experienced individual.
The final category includes tasks that are too difficult to perform even with an instructor’s help. For example, a young child might be able to spell out their own name by themselves but might need help from someone else to write the complete alphabet.
It involves a more knowledgeable person guiding a student through a task that’s in their PD. As a learner’s ability to complete a skill improves, the instructor should lessen the amount of aid they provide.
Many coaches may use scaffolding in sports to teach athletes new motor skills. Scaffolding provides a student with a supportive learning environment where they can ask questions and receive feedback.
In Vygotsky’s framework, the “more knowledgeable other” is a term for someone who guides a learner through a new skill. However, even a peer with mastery of the subject could potentially scaffold another student.
When performed properly, the concept of the PD and scaffolding can help students solve problems that would otherwise be beyond their capability. The PD and scaffolding are two concepts that can efficiently help someone learn a skill.
Scaffolding involves an experienced instructor guiding a learner through a task that’s in their PD. An individual’s PD includes any task that can only be completed with help.
As a learner starts to master a skill, the amount of support given should be reduced. The zone of proximal development refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.
Thus, the term proximal refers to those skills that the learner is “close” to mastering. “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).
To assist a person to move through the zone of proximal development, educators are encouraged to focus on three important components which aid the learning process: The more knowledgeable other (KO) is somewhat self-explanatory; it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.
Although the implication is that the KO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case. Many times, a child's peers or an adult's children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience.
According to Vygotsky (1978), much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may model behaviors and/or provide verbal instructions for the child.
The child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalizes the information, using it to guide or regulate their own performance. However, it is important to note that Vygotsky never used this term in his writing, and it was introduced by Wood, Brunei and Ross (1976).
Scaffolding consists of the activities provided by the educator, or more competent peer, to support the student as he or she is led through the zone of proximal development. Support is tapered off (i.e. withdrawn) as it becomes unnecessary, much as a scaffold is removed from a building during construction.
Wood et al. (1976, p. 90) define scaffolding as a process “that enables a child or novice to solve a task or achieve a goal that would be beyond his unassisted efforts.” Wood and Middleton (1975) Procedure : 4-year-old children had to use a set of blocks and pegs to build a 3D model shown in a picture.
Wood and Middleton (1975) observed how mothers interacted with their children to build the 3D model. The results of the study showed that no single strategy was best for helping the child to progress.
Scaffolding (i.e., assistance) is most effective when the support is matched to the needs of the learner. She asked a group of children between the ages of three and five years to help a puppet to decide which furniture should be placed in the various rooms of a dolls house.
First Freud assessed what each child already understood about the placement of furniture (as a baseline measure). Vygotsky believes the role of education to provide children with experiences which are in their PD, thereby encouraging and advancing their individual learning.
'From a Vygotsky perspective, the teacher's role is mediating the child's learning activity as they share knowledge through social interaction' (Dixon-Krauss, 1996, p. 18). LEV Vygotsky views interaction with peers as an effective way of developing skills and strategies.
Assess the learner's current knowledge and experience for the academic content. Relate content to what students already understand or can do. Break a task into small, more manageable tasks with opportunities for intermittent feedback. Use verbal cues and prompts to assist students. Scaffolding not only produces immediate results, but also instills the skills necessary for independent problem-solving in the future.
A contemporary application of Vygotsky's theories is “reciprocal teaching,” used to improve students' ability to learn from text. In this method, teacher and students collaborate in learning and practicing four key skills: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting.
Vygotsky's theories also feed into current interest in collaborative learning, suggesting that group members should have different levels of ability so more advanced peers can help less advanced members operate within their zone of proximal development. Maria just entered college this semester and decided to take an introductory tennis course.
He notices that her stance is perfect, she prepares early, she turns her torso appropriately, and she hits the ball at precisely the right height. In this case, Maria was in the zone of proximal development for successfully hitting a forehand shot.
She was doing everything else correctly, but just needed a little coaching and scaffolding from a More Knowledgeable Other to help her succeed in this task. Provided with appropriate support at the right moments, so to will students in classrooms be able to achieve tasks that would otherwise be too difficult for them.