Pedagogical Zones

Lev Vygotsky located the Zone of Proximal Development between a child’s “current development level and the level of development the child could achieve ‘through adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers’” (Vygotsky, as quoted in Woolfolk, 44).  He wrote that children are always on the verge of being able to solve certain problems, and that they just need some structure, clues and reminders to help them.  This Zone of Proximal Development is the area “where instruction can succeed, because real learning is possible” (ibid).  Carol Kuhlthau built on Vygotsky’s claims when she described her theory of “zones of intervention.”  She studied the information gathering process of high school students, and noticed that doubt, confusion and anxiety often prevent students from knowing how to move forward in their work.  When uncertainty prevails, mediators can intervene in the search process.   “Mediators” can be friends, family, librarians, teachers—in other words, any capable peer or adult who can provide the student with some clues or structure to help her find her way.

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