The zone of proximal development (ZPD), is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help. It is a concept developed by Soviet psychologist and social constructivist Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934).
Vygotsky stated that a child follows an adult’s example and gradually develops the ability to do certain tasks without help or assistance. Vygotsky’s often-quoted definition of zone of proximal development presents it as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.”
Vygotsky among other educational professionals believes the role of education to be to provide children with experiences which are in their ZPD, thereby encouraging and advancing their individual learning.