The interpretation of a zone of proximal development

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Unformatted text preview: ore accurately, Vygotskians suggested that standardized ability tests should be supplemented with measures of a learner’s zone of proximal development. In this case, evaluators would scaffold learners as they attempted problems that were slightly above the assessed independent level. Measures of learning potential would either be how much improvement learners showed during the zone of proximal development procedure, or how much help it took to achieve a certain level of performance. The interpretation of a zone of proximal development assessment procedure can be different depending on how the zone of proximal development is conceptualized (Allal & Ducrey, 2000; Minick, 1987; Van der veer & Valsiner, 1991). The zone of proximal development can be viewed as a characteristic or 35 trait of the learner. In this case, measurements of the zone of proximal development would reveal learners’ generalized potential to learn, and could be useful for making predictions about students’ potential for academic progress. However, the zone of proximal development may only exist when it is created by the interactions between a learner and an evaluator. This view implies that a learner’s zone of proximal development could be different depending on the academic domain and who is providing the scaffolding; learners could have multiple zones of proximal development. In this latter case, the goal might be to identify what forms of scaffolding help this learner with particular tasks. It is possible to make the case that Vygotsky intended both uses for the zone of proximal development, but insufficient data exist to support the idea that the zone of proximal development is stable enough across situations to warrant general predictions about learning potential across all cognitive tasks (Allal & Ducrey, 2000) Jerome S. Bruner’s Cognitive Developmental Theory Jerome Bruner provides a third cognitive developmental theory that has definite implications for instruction. In fact, Bruner defined instruction as “an effort to assist or shape growth” (Bruner, 1978, p. 1). Bruner’s theory of cognitive development focuses on how knowledge representation systems develop and how culture influences cognitive development. 36 Knowledge Representation According to Bruner (1964), an important factor in the development of an intelligent mind is the ability to represent knowledge. Knowledge representation systems allow learners to store rules or generalizations that can organize and explain recurrent themes in their experience (Bigge & Shermis, 1999). Bruner thought that we have three systems for representing knowledge, the enactive, iconic, and symbolic representational systems (Presno, 1997). He further believed that these representational systems develop in sequence, starting with the enactive system, followed by the iconic system, and ending with the symbolic system. By the time we reach adolescence, we typically have all three representational systems. Enactive Representation The first representation system to develop is enactive representation or the representation of knowledg...
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