Zone of Proximal Development, Scaffolding and Teaching Practice



The construction of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) in the context of teaching activity is discussed in the paper.ZPD is compared and contrasted with the concept of scaffolding as introduced by Jerome Bruner. In the context of its potential for operationalisation in the form of teacher activities, the author examines key ZPD content given by Lev Vygotsky in terms of the complex interaction of spontaneous (everyday) concepts formed prior to the beginning of school education with scientific (theoretical) concepts formed during schooling. Vygotsky’s main idea about the leading role of scientific concepts in the restructuring of previously formed spontaneous concepts, as well as in the development of the child’s holistic thinking, leads to the conclusion that it is possible also to directly influence the spontaneous formation concepts change through the organisation of collectively distributed forms of educational activity and in a polylogue based the Socratic method. The leading psychological processes, which ensure the development of spontaneous concepts through their greater generalisation and awareness, comprise the processes of exteriorisation of spontaneous concepts, reflection and subsequent interiorisation of a collectively constructed concept. Therefore, the activities of teaching in constructing a ZPD include providing conditions for the distribution of individual operations in the course of a joint learning action and facilitating a polylogue to ensure the effective functioning of these psychological processes in the course of specifically organised learning activities.

General Information

Keywords: zone of proximal development, scaffolding, cultural-historical psychology, Vygotsky, teaching

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Margolis A.A. Zone of Proximal Development, Scaffolding and Teaching Practice. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 15–26. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2020160303.

A Part of Article

In the context of child development, one of the most cited concepts in Lev Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). ZPD continues to arouse research and practical interest due to its role in constructing a model of education that is aimed at developing a student’s thinking and personality rather than memorising and reproducing information.


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Information About the Authors

Arkadiy A. Margolis, PhD in Psychology, Rector, Professor, Chair of Pedagogical Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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