Monday, April 23, 2012

Vygotsky's Constructivist Approach

The constructivist approach focuses on the idea that the learner should be actively seeking out new information rather than listening to teachers simply give it to them. This theory emphasizes the idea that students learn best with guidance from the teacher as well as collaboration with classmates. One of Vygotsky’s main principles is the zone of proximal development, or ZPD. The ZPD consists of various tasks and skills that are too difficult for an individual to master on their own at a specific time. However, with the assistance of an adult or a skilled peer, the individual may master a specific task. This assistance is often referred to as “scaffolding”. There are two limits within the ZPD. The lower limit refers to the level of problem solving an individual may achieve while working on a task without aid. Whereas the upper limit refers to the level of achievement an individual can accept with guidance or assistance from a more-skilled adult or peer. It is important that those providing the “scaffolding” limit the amount of assistance they contribute to the learner. Vygotsky stresses that those providing assistance merely serve as a guide or facilitator, but not a director. This theory warns that if too much assistance is given to a youth they may become too dependent on their help.

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