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一文读懂ZPD(最近发展区)

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The zone of proximal development, often abbreviated as ZPD, is the difference between what a learner can do without help, and what they can't do. The concept was introduced, but not fully developed, by psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) during the last ten years of his life. Vygotsky stated that a child follows an adult's example and gradually develops the ability to do certain tasks without help. Vygotsky and some other educators believe that the role of education is to give children experiences that are within their zones of proximal development, thereby encouraging and advancing their individual learning such as skills and strategies.
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Origins
The concept of the zone of proximal development was originally developed by Vygotsky to argue against the use of academic, knowledge-based tests as a means to gauge students' intelligence. He also created ZPD to further develop Jean Piaget's theory of children being lone learners. Vygotsky spent a lot of time studying the impact of school instruction on children and noted that children grasp language concepts quite naturally, but that maths and writing don’t come naturally, that these are concepts taught in schools and tend to come along with some difficulty, while Piaget believed that there was a clear distinction between development and teaching. He said that development is a spontaneous process that is initiated and completed by the children, stemming from their own efforts. Piaget was a proponent of independent thinking and critical of the standard teacher-led instruction that was common practice in schools.

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Alternatively, Vygotsky saw natural, spontaneous development as important, but not all-important. He believed that children would not advance very far if they were left to discover everything on their own. It's crucial for a child's development that they are able to interact with more knowledgeable others. They would not be able to expand on what they know if this wasn't possible. He noted cultural experiences where children are greatly helped by knowledge and tools handed down from previous generations. Vygotsky noted that good teachers shouldn't present material that is too difficult and “pull the students along.”
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Vygotsky argued that, rather than examining what a student knows to determine intelligence, it is better to examine their ability to solve problems independently and ability to solve problems with an adult's help. He proposed a question: "if two children perform the same on a test, are their levels of development the same?" He concluded that they were not. However, Vygotsky's untimely death interrupted his work on the zone of proximal development, and it remained mostly incomplete.

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Definition
Since Vygotsky's original conception, the definition for the zone of proximal development has been expanded and modified. The zone of proximal development is an area of learning that occurs when a person is assisted by a teacher or peer with a higher skill set. The person learning the skill set cannot complete it without the assistance of the teacher or peer. The teacher then helps the student attain the skill the student is trying to master, until the teacher is no longer needed for that task.
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Any function within the zone of proximal development matures within a particular internal context that includes not only the function’s actual level but also how susceptible the child is to types of help, the sequence in which these types of help are offered, the flexibility or rigidity of previously formed stereotypes, how willing the child is to collaborate, along with other factors. This context can impact the diagnosis of a function’s potential level of development.
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Vygotsky stated that we can’t just look at what students are capable of doing on their own; we have to look at what they are capable of doing in a social setting. In many cases students are able to complete a task within a group before they are able to complete it on their own. He notes that the teacher’s job is to move the child’s mind forward step-by-step (after all, teachers can’t teach complex chemical equations to first-graders). At the same time, teachers can’t teach all children equally; they must determine which students are ready for which lessons. An example is the often-used accelerated reading program in schools. Students are assessed and given a reading level and a range. Books rated below their level are easy to read, while books above their level challenge the student. Sometimes students are not even allowed to check out books from the school library that are outside their range. Vygotsky argued that a major shortcoming of standardized tests is that they only measure what students are capable of on their own, not in a group setting where their minds are being pushed by other students.
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In the context of second language learning, the ZPD can be useful to many adult users. Prompted by this fact as well as the finding that adult peers don't necessarily need to be more capable to provide assistance in the ZPD, Vygotsky’s definition has been adapted to better suit the adult L2 developmental context

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Scaffolding
The concept of the ZPD is widely used to study children's mental development as it relates to education. The ZPD concept is seen as a scaffolding, a structure of "support points" for performing an action. This refers to the help or guidance received from an adult or more competent peer to permit the child to work within the ZPD. Although Vygotsky himself never mentioned the term, scaffolding was first developed by Jerome Bruner, David Wood, and Gail Ross, while applying Vygotsky's concept of ZPD to various educational contexts. According to Wass and Golding, giving students the hardest tasks they can do with scaffolding leads to the greatest learning gains.

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Scaffolding is a process through which a teacher or a more competent peer helps a student in their ZPD as necessary and tapers off this aid as it becomes unnecessary—much as workers remove a scaffold from a building after they complete construction. "Scaffolding [is] the way the adult guides the child's learning via focused questions and positive interactions." This concept has been further developed by Mercedes Chaves Jaime, Ann Brown, among others. Several instructional programs were developed based on this interpretation of the ZPD, including reciprocal teaching and dynamic assessment. For scaffolding to be effective, one must start at the child's level of knowledge and build from there.

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One example of children using ZPD is when they are learning to speak. As their speech develops, it influences the way the child thinks, which in turn influences the child's manner of speaking. This process opens more doors for the child to expand their vocabulary. As they learn to convey their thoughts in a more effective way, they receive more sophisticated feedback, therefore increasing their vocabulary and their speaking skills. Wells gives the example of dancing: when a person is learning how to dance, they look to others around them on the dance floor and imitate their moves. A person does not copy the dance moves exactly, but takes what they can and adds their own personality to it.

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In mathematics, proximal development uses mathematical exercises for which students have seen one or more worked examples. In secondary school some scaffolding is provided, and generally much less at the tertiary level. Ultimately students must find library resources or a tutor when presented with challenges beyond the zone.
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Another example of scaffolding is learning to drive. Parents and driving instructors guide driving students along the way by showing them the mechanics of how the car operates, the correct hand positions on the steering wheel, the technique of scanning the roadway, etc. As the student progresses, less and less instruction is needed, until they are ready to drive on their own.

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The concept of scaffolding can be observed in various life situations and arguably in the basis of how everyone learns. One does not (normally) begin knowing everything that there is to know about a subject. The basics must be learned first so one can build on prior knowledge towards mastery of a particular subject or skill.

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Implications For Educators
Various investigations, using different approaches and research frameworks have proved collaborative learning to be effective in many kinds of settings and contexts. Teachers should assign tasks that students cannot do on their own, but which they can do with assistance; they should provide just enough assistance so that students learn to complete the tasks independently and then provide an environment that enables students to do harder tasks than would otherwise be possible. Teachers can also allow students with more knowledge to assist students who need more assistance. Especially in the context of collaborative learning, group members who have higher levels of understanding can help the less advanced members learn within their zone of proximal development. In the context of adults, peers should challenge each other in order to support collaboration and success.
What Is the Zone of Proximal Development?
The zone of proximal development (ZPD), or zone of potential development, refers to the range of abilities an individual can perform with the guidance of an expert, but cannot yet perform on their own.
Developed by psychologist Lev Vygotsky, this learning theory may be observed in a classroom setting or anywhere else where an individual has the opportunity to develop new skills.1
Stages of ZPD
There are three distinct categories where a learner may fall in terms of their skill set. For learning to take place, it's critical that the expert understands the learner's specific ZPD stage.2 P. U9 C+ Q* H2 Z3 D& M
Task a Learner Cannot Accomplish With Assistance
Tasks that are outside of the learner's ZPD are those that are unable to be completed even with the help of an expert.
If the task isn't within the learner's ZPD, the expert may look to decrease the level of difficulty and find tasks that are more appropriate given the learner's skill level.2
Tasks a Learner Can Accomplish With Assistance
When a learner is close to mastering a skill set required to complete a task, but still needs the guidance of an expert to do so, they are considered to be in their zone of proximal development.
In this situation, an expert may use various techniques to help the learner better understand the concepts and skills required to perform a task on their own.2
Tasks a Learner Can Accomplish Without Assistance
In this phase, the learner is able to complete tasks independently and has mastered the skill set required to do so. The learner does not need the help of an expert.
When a learner has reached this stage, the expert may increase the task difficulty level in order to find the learner's next ZPD and encourage further learning.2
Key Factors
There are several core concepts developed by Vygotsky and expanded upon by others following him that have helped round out this learning theory.
The success of this learning process involves:
The presence of someone with the knowledge and skills to guide the learner
Supportive activities, known as scaffolding, provided by the expert that help guide the learner
Social interactions that allow the learner to work on their skills and abilities1
The "More Knowledgeable Other"
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The "more knowledgeable other" is someone who has a higher level of knowledge than the learner and is able to provide them with instruction during their learning process.
While a child might not yet be capable of doing something on their own, they are able to perform the task with the assistance of a skilled instructor, which may include a parent, a teacher, another adult, or a peer.3
Scaffolding Theory
When a child is in their ZPD, an expert will provide them with appropriate assistance to help them accomplish a new task or skill. Activities, instructions, tools, and resources that are used to aid in this learning process are known as scaffolding.
Examples of scaffolding that educators may use include:
Asking a student what they think should be done next, what their thought process was, or if there are other ways the problem can be solved
Modeling how to solve a similar problem or complete a similar task
Putting students in small groups and having them discuss a new concept before engaging in it
Using visual aids to help students conceptualize a task prior to engaging in it
Asking students to use prior knowledge to better understand more complex topics
Using meta-cognitive online tools such as self-assessment of material and self-correcting to help students learn concepts4
Eventually, scaffolding can be removed and the student will be able to complete the task independently.
While scaffolding is most often associated with the zone of proximal development, it is not a concept that was initially introduced by Vygotsky. Instead, this term has been put forth by other researchers who have expanded on his original theories.5
Social Interaction
For learning to take place, Vygotsky believed that social interaction between a more knowledgeable other and the learner was critical. While the expert may be an adult, Vygotsky also emphasized the power of peer learning.
For instance, when kids are learning a new concept, social interaction between the adult expert and all of the children is initially crucial. But, if some children grasp the concept, while others are still in their ZPD, peer interaction may create the most conducive environment for learning.6
ZPD Applications in the Classroom
The zone of proximal development is a moving target. By giving children tasks that they cannot quite do easily on their own and providing the guidance they need to accomplish them, educators can progressively advance the learning process.1
Some examples of ZPD applications in the classroom:
A teacher in an experimental psychology course might initially provide scaffolding for students by coaching them through their experiments. Next, the teacher slowly removes the scaffolding by only providing brief descriptions of how to proceed. Finally, students would be expected to develop and carry out their experiments independently.
A teacher may provide traceable worksheets to students learning how to write the alphabet. The teacher may also use a whiteboard to model the steps it takes to write letters. If some students get stuck, the teacher may have them practice on the whiteboard together until the skill is mastered.
For children learning another language, a teacher may write a sentence on the board, read it aloud, then encourage the students to take turns reading it aloud themselves. The teacher may then split the children into groups to practice reading together before assigning reading homework to do independently.
Sociocultural Theory: Examples and Applications
Potential Challenges of Scaffolding
While scaffolding can be incredibly helpful for students learning a new concept or skill, if the teacher is unaware of each student's unique ZPD, these learning techniques may not be effective.
According to research, other difficulties educators may encounter include:7
Not having enough time and/or resources to understand each student's ZPD
Having too many students to properly understand each one's ever-changing ZPD
Not fully understanding the concept of ZPD and/or scaffolding
Struggling to maintain enough cognitive flexibility to carry out scaffolding
Not being organized enough to follow through with scaffolding
A Word From Verywell
The zone of proximal development is an important concept in the fields of both education and psychology. By understanding how the ZPD works, educators and experts can be better prepared to create instruction and learning programs that maximize the tools and resources available to students.
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