The Zone of Proximal Development

The Zone of Proximal Developement (ZPD) is an educational theory to which we ascribe at PCIS.  The premise is that there are certain skills and knowledge that a student currently has and can implement entirely independently (too easy).  There are also skills that a student is not currently capable of acquiring even with help (too hard). Between these two lies a set of skills and knowledge that a student can learn with help (just right). Those just-right skills lie in what is called the Zone of Proximal Development and our teachers ensure that students are working in this zone, on these skills, all the time.


At PCIS, we are constantly assessing student abilities in all subjects.  This helps us determine what each student can already do or already knows.  We do not spend time teaching these things, but rather move beyond them into the ZPD and create lessons for students for which they need help, but can succeed.  We are also careful not to push students beyond the ZPD by giving them activities that they cannot accomplish.

The support that students need to succeed in the ZPD is called scaffolding and scaffolding takes many forms including: modeling, asking guiding questions, providing additional materials, allowing more time, pre-teaching and connecting to prior knowledge. These are the core of lessons in every PCIS classroom in every subject.