Essay Developmental Psychology and Proximal Development

Submitted By ljcamz
Words: 2338
Pages: 10

Lev Vygotsky’s is a Russian psychologist who discovered the theory of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’, which is defined as “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined by independent problem solving under adult guidance” (Vygotsky 1978). Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) introduced the term scaffolding as the way adults guide children in problem solving, and as such, synonymous for the Zone of Proximal Development. The effectiveness of the Zone of Proximal Development and the ability to provide appropriate teaching or support for an intellectual variation of students, depends solely on a teacher’ scaffolding methods. Teaching within the Zone of Proximal Development requires an educator to be aware of a student’s prior knowledge and abilities and to build on those aptitudes by fine-tuning himself or herself into that student’s level of understanding (Vialle, W Verenikina, I Howard, S & Tindall-Ford S 2013). An appropriate scaffolding technique will “emphasize self-initiated discovery, a character education approach, assisted discovery and a basic skills approach” (Verenikina, I. 2014). As such, the assessment of potential development and the distance between assisted performances and discovery learning can be used to provide appropriate education for a wide range of intellectual abilities, depending on an educators ability to meet a child’s individual needs and expand their knowledge. This essay will address the effectiveness of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development in relation to a wide variety of children, including those with intellectual disabilities, and a comparison of different cultures. More specifically however, the paper will focus on the efficiency as well as the appropriateness of scaffolding in relation to young children, within the age group 0-14.

Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development has been practiced in early childcare settings for many years. A child’s abilities, regardless of intellectuality, can be improved through guidance by a competent other. Many studies conducted by professionals have proved this point, including Fruend’s (1990) Doll House Study. This study was an investigation between the effectiveness of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and Piaget’s discovery learning, based on the fact that children learn through personal discovery and exploration (Coffey, 2009). The study involved children ages three to five years helping puppets decide which furniture should be placed in which rooms of a dolls house. Each child worked on the same task, either independently (Piaget’s theory), or with a competent other (ZPD). The children were tested a few times and assigned more difficult tasks. The results verified Vygotsky’s theory, as children supported by a competent other were able to perform better than those who worked autonomously (McLeod 2012). This study was able to prove the idea that while personal discovery and exploration in child’s play is important, children are able to further achieve whilst assisted by an adult. Since more than one child, all of different intellectual abilities completed this study it is evident that the notion of successful scaffolding can, in fact, be used to support a full range of students.
Another study that shows the importance of, not only the Zone of Proximal Development, but also the amount of assistance necessary, which differs from child to child, is Wood and Middleton’s (1975) scaffolding experience. This study analyzed a group of 4-year-old children who were asked to build a 3D model of a picture using blocks and pegs. The experience proved to be too difficult for the child alone, so mothers were introduced into the test to analyze the type of support needed for each child. The support varied from general reassurance to precise instructions, to direct demonstration. Basically, the most effective results were those mothers who varied their support