Zone of Proximal Development

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Zone of Proximal Development

Teachers with a constructivist view of learning focus on students’ thinking about the material being learned and, through careful orchestrated cues, prompts, and questions, help students arrive at a deeper understanding of the material. Also, teachers with a constructivist view elicit students’ prior knowledge of the material and uses this as the starting point for instruction. In addition the teacher not only presents material to students, but he or she also responds to students’ efforts to learn the material. While teaching, the teacher must learn about students’ learning.

Students not only absorb information, but they also actively use that information to construct meaning. The teacher creates a social milieu within the classroom, a community of learners, that allows students to reflect and talk with one another as they construct meaning and solve problems. These approaches provide students with support, or “scaffolding”, as they learn new material. Scaffolding is when a teacher listens and observes a student, and incorporates cludes, encouragement, suggestions, aor other assistance to guide students’ learning efforts.

When you put constructivist teachers that incorporate scaffolding you get Zone of Proximal Development. The concept of scaffolding is based on the work of L.S. Vygotsky, a well known Soviet psychologist. The term zone of proximal development refers to the point at which students need assistance in order to continue learning. The effective teacher is sensitive to the student’s zone of development and ensures that instruction neither exceeds the student’s current level of understanding nor underestimates the student’s ability.
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