20 February 2014

Lev Vygotsky’s Zone Of Proximal Development

CTET Exam Notes : Child Development and Pedagogy (CDP) 

Topic : Lev Vygotsky’s  Zone Of Proximal Development

Cognitive View (theory ) Of Lev Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory relates to both cognitive and social development .While this Russian theorist died in 1934, his work only found a broader audience in the 1990s. 

Vygotsky developed his theories around the same time as Jean Piaget yet he emphasised the importance of relationships and interactions between children and more knowledgeable peers and adults .


He believed that children’s cognitive understanding were ‘ scaffolded’  by parents, teachers or peers (Berk, 1996). Unlike Piaget, Vygotsky did not see the child as a solitary discoverer of knowledge, but as learning within social interactions that involve communicating. Vygotsky therefore also emphasised the role of language in the development of thinking processes. Like Piaget, he saw children as active partners in their own learning, and increasingly so as their ability to interact with others develops. He therefore emphasised the importance of language development, learning and teaching to the child’ s cognitive development.

Must Read: Overview Of Piaget's Theory Of Cognitive Development

It was Vygotsky’s view  that thinking in concepts was not possible without verbal thinking. While thought and language initially develop independently, they are merged once language is developed to create verbal thought. Speech and thought change over time and become more internalised. Vygotsky saw the adult as vital to the process of  ‘scaffolding’ the child’s  behaviour. When you scaffold a building, you support it structurally while internal developments occur. It is a common sight on building sites. We scaffold children’s development almost without thinking. 

Consider this example:
Bonnie is completing a three-piece puzzle with knobs on top. She has the last piece over the space, but it is upside down. She pushes harder. Her caregiver says, 'Try turning it, Bonnie', but Bonnie looks confused. The caregiver puts her hand over Bonnie's, and turns the piece slightly, saying, 'See, Bonnie? Turn it'

Vygotsky’s  Zone Of Proximal Development

CTET Exam Notes, TET Hindi PDF Notes, Child Development And Pyschology
Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky also saw the child s ability to think logically as developing in stages. He outlined four different stages of conceptual development, as in Table below.

1. Thinking in
  • Preschool stage of development
  • Beginnings of conceptual thought·
  •  Children use trial and error
  • Children use problem-solving techniques
  • Three sub-phases
2.Thinking  in
  • Children begin to make connections between objects, but not in a consistent manner
  • Five sub-phases
3. Thinking in
  • Children are able to think in more abstract
  • concepts and make associations Cannot see two associations simultaneously
4. Thinking in
true concepts
  • Mature thinking
  • Children can manipulate a number of abstract concepts

While Piaget felt there was no use in presenting materials and problems to children beyond their developmental capacity, Vygotsky saw an important role for adults in extending children s learning beyond areas in which they are independently capable. Vygotsky used the term Zone of Proximal Development to describe the extension of skills a child is capable of with adult help. 

Consider this example:
A toddler has a large knob puzzle with a simple bear shape. The toddler tries to put the teddy in the hole, but has it upside down. He tries to get it in, cannot and moves away. This child, operating independently, is unable to complete the puzzle. A caregiver might then help the toddler with the puzzle and say ’Look, here are his ears, see, here is the space for the ears . The caregiver then puts the teddy bear the right way up and just to the side of the hole. The toddler slips the puzzle into place. Now the toddler is capable of doing the puzzle. By careful scaffolding, the child’s Zone of Proximal Development has been expanded.

Other theorists of Cognitive development--> HERE