Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

The zone of proximal development, ZPD, is a term developed by Lev Vygotsky, which describes the range between tasks that a child can complete independently and those that can be completed with the guidance of an adult. This first level is called the actual developmental level and the second level as the level of potential development. This gap between the two levels is where an adult can mediate and support students through scaffolding. Over the course of time, the child, or novice, will learn and gain understanding through adult, or expert, guidance and scaffolding will gradually fade. The ZPD is an ongoing process that never ends. An expert in one situation can be a novice in another. Dialogue is an important tool of this process.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. In Cole, M. (Ed.), Mind in society: The development of higher
psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 79-91.