Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

"The Zone of Proximal Development is the distance between the actualdevelopmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the levelof potential as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or incollaboration with more capable peers." (Cole, 1962.) A child's actualdevelopmental level indicates a child's level of mental development at aparticular time. It indicates the functions that have already matured in thechild. A child's ZPD defines those functions that have not matured yet, butthat are in the process of maturing and developing. A child's ZPD permits us tooutline the child's immediate future and his overall dynamic state ofdevelopment. "Experience has shown that the child with the larger zone ofproximal development will do much better in school." (Hanfmann, 1962)

Ex. Taken from Lefrancois (1994)
Take, for example, two five-year-old children, who can both, under normal circumstances, answer questions thatother average five-year-olds can also answer. Their mental ages might be saidto correspond to their chronological ages, and their intelligence would bedescribed as average. But if, when prompted, one of these children couldsuccessfully answer questions corresponding to a mental age of but the othercould not, it would be accurate to say that the first child's zone of proximalgrowth is greater than the other's (that is, it spans a wider range of higherfunctions).

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