Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory

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Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory

Zone of Proximal Development


Bcb704. 2012, April 4. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BX2ynEqLL4D’Angelo, C., Touchman, S., Clark, D., O’Donnell, A., Mayer, R., Dean, D. ' Hmelo-Silver, C. (2009). Constructivism. Retrieved online Oct 1, 2014 from http://www.education.com/reference/article/constructivism/Gallagher, C. (1999). Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky. Retrieved online Oct 1, 2014 from http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/vygotsky.htmSchunk, D. H. (2012). Learning therioes: An educational perspective. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Publishing.

Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory


Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory is a theory that believes society and environment play a large part in individual development. A child is most directly influenced by the people around them, including parents, teachers, and friends. Vygotsky also believed that many signs of child development will manifest socially first, and then be internalized including logic, attention and concepts.

Vygotsky was one of the first to make the distinction between human and animal learning, the difference being that “…humans have the capacity to alter the environment for their own purposes” (Schunk, 2012).

According to Vygotsy himself, the the zone of proximal development "is the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers." This is basically what a person can do with aid, but not alone.

Vygotsky believed that interaction with comparable peers with essential to a student’s development. He was one of the first to suggest pairing higher performing students with those in need of assistance. This would allow the more advanced student to teach the underachieving student needed skills. This is called scaffolding. Scaffolding is simply providing a student assistance to accomplish a task and then over time removing the assistance to allow the student to perform the task unaided. Think of beginning algebraic equations where some of the variables are already in place. Over time the provided variables are less and the blanks more abundant until eventually no assistance is needed. Scaffolding may also be used as a technique to help learners remember information from previous classes.

Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist born in 1896. Vygotsky graduated with a law degree from the Moscow State University, and in 1924 began his studies of psychology. Vygotsky’s theories on sociocultural development and the zones of proximal development are considered some of the leading psychology work of the twentieth century.


How would you describe Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development in your own words?What are some instances where you can apply scaffolding in your classroom?How is Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory similar to Jean Paiget’s theory?Who will gain the most from the use of scaffolding in the classroom?Create your own Glogster explaining your planned use of scaffolding in your classroom.


  • RootbeerMess 6 years ago

    RootbeerMess's avatar

    Looks veary intresting,but I dident reed it