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Zone of Proximal Development

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Adam Van Hart

on 18 July 2014

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Transcript of Zone of Proximal Development

Tactics in the classroom
Getting students to understand material isn't as simple as giving an assignment and saying go at it! Instead, teachers must create lessons and activities that break down the material into pieces that help students build up the concepts that they are engaging.
A concern with the ZPD
Students are not built the same. One technique that could work with one student to help relate the material may not work for another student. In a large classroom, it can prove difficult to create effective lessons that enable all students to grow in their own ZPD, without resorting to more individual interaction.
How do we reach learners of different levels, skills, and intelligences in a single classroom. What ZPD does well is that it ties into this concept with its approach to learning. Students have different skills and abilities, as teachers we need to find techniques that match theses skills. Using students skills and unique tendencies is a powerful way to take students out of their ZPD.
What does it mean for students?
"Instruction is only useful when it moves ahead of development. When it does, it impels or wakens a whole series of functions that are in a stage of maturation lying in the zone of proximal development." -Zygotsky
Theories and ideas
While the concept of ZPD can be simple, there are multiple areas and considerations the idea can influence. Some areas that need to be considered include student-teacher interpersonal relationship and group dynamics in the classroom.
Zone of Proximal Development
Scaffolding is key to the game
A suggestion that education students have heard on numerous occasions was that they need to scaffold work for students. In its simplest terms, it means that students need support from teachers, whether that be in the form of warm-up lessons, direct help, etc., to help them process and successfully. Teachers must help students develop these approaches that will be successful.
Techniques to use!
1. Materialization-students learn well when they can physically see the concepts being discussed. Bringing in materials that help students visualize the material can greatly improve their understanding of the lessons.
2. Encouraging Private Speech. This concept encourages students to give themselves self-directed instructions on how to proceed with the work.
3. Use knowledge students already have. Learning can be greatly improved if students can relate material to things they already know.
4. Allow students the space to discuss the concepts you want them to learn. They can process the material more fully if they are able to talk them out. This could look like having group discussions after a new concept is introduced.
5. Pulling out key concepts in literature. In an English class, it can be difficult for students to always know what is important in literature. Help them by demonstrating how to focus on important material from the literature they are studying.
The ideas here are concepts that use the ZPD as a starting point for further research. While ZPD factors prominently into these ideas discussed in the reseach, it is not the only psychological concept at play here. In fact, the ideas discussed in the research looks at ways to improve growth in the ZPD.
From the Literature
"Student interests vary, these interest can become effective tools to support learning in the differentiated classroom (Tomlinson, 2001a). Tomlinson (2001a) sees student interests as a powerful motivator, which wise teachers could take advantage of within the differentiated
classroom." - Subban
Lev Zygotsky (image courtesy of https://www.dur.ac.uk/russianchildscience/russia-sovietunion/)
Lev Zygotsky who?
Zygotsky was a Russian psychologist who specialized in developmental theory. His main theory, cultural-historical psychology, focuses on how common beliefs, practices, customs, and morals of cultures are transmitted from one generation to the next. The theory has grown, with followers of Zygotsky adding and molding the ideas to adapt to new research and developments.
ZPD-The Zone
The theory in a nutshell
"Through speech the child acquires a worldview that reflects reality in a more adequate way. The driving force in creating new meanings for the child is education in school. Given that meanings and schools differ in different cultures, children and adults living in different cultures will think along different lines. " - Lev Zygotsky
The Zone of Proximal Development is a simple theory that has multiple implications for the classroom. Simply, the Zone is the area where a student can learn new information and perform tasks with the aid of a MKP (more knowledgeable person). This is the area in which a teacher is operating, to get the student from where they are intellectually to where they have the potential to go in the future.
Question to Consider
Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Students are learning in an environment where 30 other students are trying to learn the same thing. As teachers, we are responsible for everyone's education, but how do we focus on 30 different needs and intelligences? How do we get everyone beyond their own ZPD, if their needs differ greatly from their fellow classmates, while they learn in an environment that produces multiple stimuli?
In the Classroom
There are multiple ways for students to connect with material. Teachers need to find different ways to present the same material to help students grow in their own ZPD. Meaning, teachers have to present material through different mediums, to provide differentiation and scaffolding to adolescents in order to ensure engagement from participants.
Connecting to Research
The added benefit of differentiated learning is that students can connect to what they may or may not realize is a caring teacher. Since trust and interpersonal relationships play a role in growth within the ZPD, differentiation provides a reasonable belief that teachers want their students to succeed in the class.
Image retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_of_proximal_development
This does not mean teachers do the work for students, nor make the task easier for the student. Instead, students are given more tools to work on the task. Slowly, those additional tools are taken away until the student can perform the work on their own, without needing guided support. As Vygotsky said himself "What a child is able to do in collaboration today, he will be able to do independently tomorrow."
Image retrieved from: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/bdodge/scaffolding.html
Where is the Line?
In the classroom it is essential to remember that lessons cannot be too easy, nor can they be too difficult. Both approaches run the risk of keeping students from growing their knowledge and not moving out into the higher realms of the ZPD. If the work is too easy for them, they will not learn anything new. If the work is too difficult to do eventually on their own, they will not learn anything new. The work needs to be just difficult enough they can't do it on their own at first, but eventually can do on their own with the help of a teacher or MKP.
Interpersonal relationships
Students and teachers enter into a caring relationship, in which the teacher develops trust with the student. It is necessary for teachers to empathize with students, in order to understand how students view the task. The goal of interaction isn't necessarily about getting the right answer out of the student, but getting them into the learning process. And both participants experience change throughout the experience. "Although both emerge changed, the teacher and the student experience different types of intellectual transformation during a teaching-learning encounter." - Goldstein and Leong, Students and teachers both gain from the experience.
From the literature
"The literature suggests that interpersonal relationship can be considered a significant factor in cognitive development." - Goldstein
"Learning which is oriented toward developmental levels that have already been reached is ineffective [... ] the only 'good learning' is that which is in advance of development." - Lev Zygotsky
Group Dynamics
What do you think is the best way to check whether lessons are at the right skill level for your students?
What other areas can teachers and researchers use ZPD to explain ideas and theories?
What would you do to scaffold lessons with your students?
What is the best way to differentiate material in the classroom to ensure that student needs are being met?
Students are learning with their peers in classrooms that may or may not be conducive to the experience. However, there is research into how a group ZPD can be a useful tool to consider. Through group discussions, students start to build up their knowledge in a collective ZPD. However, simply placing students in a group context does not ensure growth. Students need to actively participate and engage with classmates in order to progress. This participation does not mean that every student must speak, but it means that students must intellectually engage with the tasks.
From the Literature
"Briefly put, Vygotsky’s ZPD concept advocates a dual evaluation of a learner’s abilities to include not only a learner’s independent abilities but also what a learner is able to do in cooperation with another person. Because there are varied, though sometimes conflicting, interpretations of the ZPD, it continues to be one of the most popular of Vygotsky’s concepts. " - Compernolle and Williams
van Compernolle, Rémi A. and Williams, Lawrence. Group dynamics in the language classroom: embodied participation as active reception in the collective Zone of Proximal Development. Classroom Discourse. (2013). Volume 4, Issue 1. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com.mutex.gmu.edu/doi/full/10.1080/19463014.2013.779284#tabModule
Goldstein, Lisa S.The Relational Zone: The Role of Caring Relationships in the Co-Construction of Mind. American Educational Research Journal. (1999). Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 647-673. Retrieved from:http://www.jstor.org.mutex.gmu.edu/stable/10.2307/1163553?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Zone&searchText=of&searchText=Proximal&searchText=Development&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DZone%2Bof%2BProximal%2BDevelopment%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff
Fernández, Manuel; Wegerif, Rupert; Mercer, Neil; Rojas-Drummond, Sylvia. Re-conceptualizing “Scaffolding”and the Zone of Proximal Development in the Context of Symmetrical Collaborative Learning. (2001) Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. 36, No. 2.
Alm-Lequeux, Antonie. Using the Internet as a Zone of Proximal Development for Teaching Indirect Speech: A Vygotskian Approach. (2001). Teaching German, Vol. 34, No. 1. pp. 1-9 Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.mutex.gmu.edu/stable/3531252?seq=3&Search=yes&searchText=of&searchText=Proximal&searchText=Zone&searchText=Development&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DZone%2Bof%2BProximal%2BDevelopment%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff&prevSearch=&resultsServiceName=null
Eun, Barohny; Knotek, Steven E.; and Heining-Boynton, Audrey L. Reconceptualizing the Zone of Proximal Development: The Importance of the Third Voice. (2008). Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 20, No. 2. pp. 133-147. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.mutex.gmu.edu/stable/10.2307/23364117?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Zone&searchText=of&searchText=Proximal&searchText=Development&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DZone%2Bof%2BProximal%2BDevelopment%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff
Wass, Rob and Golding, Clinton. Sharpening a tool for teaching: the zone of proximal development. (2014). Teaching in Higher Education. Volume 19, Issue 6. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com.mutex.gmu.edu/doi/full/10.1080/13562517.2014.901958#tabModule
Johnson, Thomas Adam. How to use Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) to enhance various multiple intelligences of students in the classroom. Scribd.com. May 19, 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55793253/How-to-use-Vygotsky-s-theory-of-the-Zone-of-Proximal-Development-ZPD-to-enhance-various-multiple-intelligences-of-students-in-the-classroom-ict-desi
Bodrova, Elena. Scaffolding Emergent Writing in the Zone of Proximal Development. (1998). Literacy Teaching and Learning 1998 Volume 3, Number 2, page 1 Retrieved from: http://www.earlyliteracyinfo.org/documents/pdf/doc_122.pdf
Subban, Pearl. Differentiated Instruction: A research basis. 2006. International Education Journal. Volume 7, Number 7. p. 935-947. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ854351.pdf
Alber, Rebecca.
6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students
. January 24, 2014. Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffolding-lessons-six-strategies-rebecca-alber
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