Considering Vygotsky's ZPD in PBL


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Considering Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development in Project Based Learning.

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  • Hello. My name is Michael Voth and this is a professional development session on Considering Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in Project-Based Learning (PBL).
  • Welcome high school science teachers. As we want this to be a collaborative session, please take a moment to introduce yourself to the people around you. At the end of this session, our goal for you is to learn about considering ZPD in PBL and to take away the framework for a project-based instructional unit in one of the high school science courses you teach. Please take 10 minutes to journal as per the directions at the bottom of this slide.
  • Now take a few minutes to compare and contrast your journal thoughts with someone near you as instructed on the slide.
  • The current slide shows our agenda for this collaborative session.
  • On the current slide you can see some of the properties and advantages of project-based learning. Project-based learning of some form dates back to Confucius and Aristotle and continues to be relevant today. Current educational trends are pushing for increased project-based learning strategies. As PBL is very high profile in education today, I am confident as educators you have an exposure to the theory of project-based learning.
  • Parts or components of numerous learning theories, as far back as Dewey’s, are embedded in project-based learning. However, PBL is based on constructivism theories of learning. PBL can be thought of as a combination of cognitive and social constructivist theories, as developed by Piaget and Vygotsky, respectively. The current slide provides an overview of the theory behind constructivism and the components of PBL based on cognitive and social constructivism.
  • Built on the principle that students learn better when taught through real-world problem solving, project-based learning is a classroom model that emphasizes inquiry-based, hands on lessons that are student directed. PBL abandons traditional curriculum in that students are not required to learn specific facts on specific days. Rather, students are presented with a group project and are tasked with using their knowledge and lessons to solve problems and/or complete a project. The current and next slide give an overview of the key components of effective PBL. Note in point two that the “artifact” can be almost any type of presentable solution or product.
  • As learners need help, guidance and scaffolding will be needed. These can include student-teacher interactions, practice worksheets, peer counseling, guiding questions, job aides, project templates, etc. This is where the role of the MKO is present. In point two, as in the real-world, revisions are made as a problem is solved or a product is developed. In point three, PBL offers an opportunity for closure, debriefing or reflection. These may include relevant in-class discussions, journal entries or even follow-up questions about what students have learned. A presentation of the final product is a must; this develops communication skills and requires deeper student understanding for presentation.
  • The zone of proximal development plays a crucial part in Vygotsky’s social constructivism theory. The current slide provides and overview of the definition of ZPD. This is where the learning can occur and is where the instruction and guidance should be focused. This is also where the scaffolding is built in and then can be removed, scaffolds are to be temporary.
  • The zone of proximal development from Vygotsky’s social constructivist theory needs to be considered when determining the learning goals of the project. The state standards are a good starting point, but is the ZPD of your learners above them? If they are, the project may reach to higher cognitive learning goals. Differentiation of projects for groups with different ZPD’s will help all learners reach their potential. This is one reason why the grouping of learners is very important.
  • Scaffolding should be designed to move students through the ZPD and then be removed. Scaffolding can take place in some form of instruction and through interaction of learners with other learners, tutors, teachers, or content experts. Differentiated scaffolding can be put in place for learners with different ZPD’s. Scaffolding should consider cognition and communication. ZPD will determine the lessons that are needed and the level and amount of interaction with other learners and the MKO’s.
  • The current slide shows an example of an overview of a PBL instructional unit on the concepts in Kinematics in 1-D.
  • In this PBL example, Vygotsky’s ZPD is considered in determining the learning objective of the project. What is the gap between what students can do on their own and with assistance. This can also be differentiated for each group. The scaffolding that is put in place will also depend on the ZPD. Different forms of learning sessions and interaction with other learners, tutors, instructors, and experts are designed to move students through the ZPD. The scaffolding can also be differentiated for each group.
  • Now it is your turn! In a team of your content area instructors, design the framework of a PBL instructional unit/lesson for your science course that considers the ZPD in the designing of the PBL instruction. Note that you are just designing the framework for a PBL, not the complete PBL plan at this point. 45 minutes will be given to work on this task.
  • Now that we have completed working on our tasks, are there any groups that would like to volunteer to share what they have developed and how it incorporates considering ZPD in PBL? After sharing time, please return to your journals and journal about what you have learned today. Take 10 minutes to do this. As you leave, how will you implement what you have learned today in your science courses in the future?
  • References.
  • Considering Vygotsky's ZPD in PBL

    1. 1. Considering Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development in Project Based Learning by Michael Voth
    2. 2. What is project-based learning and the zone of proximal development? • Journal what you know about each of these concepts. • Journal what you need/want to know about each of these concepts. to Considering ZPD in PBL Session Welcome High School Science Teachers At the end of this session, we want you to have the framework for a project- based instructional unit in one of your science courses. We want this to be a collaborative session. Please introduce yourself to the people around you.
    3. 3. Now share your journal thoughts with someone sitting near you. What did you write in common and what did you write that was different? At the end of this session, we want you to have the framework for a project- based instructional unit in one of your science courses. We want this to be a collaborative session. Please introduce yourself to the people around you.
    4. 4. Agenda Review of project-based learning and learning theories behind PBL Develop the framework of PBL considering ZPD for an instructional unit in one of your courses Sharing and Reflection Zone of proximal development overview PBL considering ZPD overview and example
    5. 5. Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching strategy where students learn by exploring authentic problems and challenges. PBL can lead to higher student engagement, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and deeper understanding and retention of the material. PBL provides a learning experience more like real-life and develops stronger problem solving skills. Project-Based Learning
    6. 6. COGNITIVE CONSTRUCTIVISM (PIAGET) • Cognitive reorganization • Learning is in student’s hands and is motivated by meaningfulness • Learning related to personal ideas and experiences • Active discovery • New learning builds on prior knowledge • Acculturation • Learning experiences reflect real-world complexities • Interaction, collaboration, and communication • Presence of more knowledgeable other (MKO) • Zone of proximal development (ZPD) SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM (VYGOTSKY) Theory Behind PBL Constructivism states “Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation. The learner is not a blank slate but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation.”
    7. 7. Give a realistic problem or project that anchors all required learning objectives and learning activities. Final result should have a sharable “artifact”. Determine teams and make group work structured with defined roles. Key Components of PBL
    8. 8. Determine available resources and scaffolding that will be used. Give multi-faceted assessments that gives feedback and time to revise work. Benchmarks should focus on different aspects of the project. Include opportunities for reflection and communication, including presentation of final product. Key Components of PBL (cont’d)
    9. 9. The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the distance between a student’s ability to perform a task independently and through assistance. Vygotsky sees the ZPD as where the learning occurs. Scaffolding is to take place in this zone. "What the child is able to do in collaboration today, he will be able to do independently tomorrow.“ Lev Vygotsky. Zone of Proximal Development
    10. 10. The zone of proximal development needs to be considered when setting the learning objectives of the project. State standards are a reference/starting point, but are your students ZPD above them? Different learners may have different ZPD’s. This is where differentiation can take place. Differentiate projects of groups of learners with different ZPD’s. Grouping of learners is very important for this reason. ZPD in PBL: Learning Objectives
    11. 11. The zone of proximal development also needs to be considered when designing scaffolding. Scaffolding is to help learners through the ZPD, and then are to be removed. Scaffolding can be in the form of designed tutorials/lessons and through interaction of students, tutors, instructors, and experts. Different scaffolding can be designed for learners with different ZPD’s. ZPD in PBL: Scaffolding
    12. 12. Students are placed in the shoes of an insurance investigator who, on the first day on the job, is asked to determine whether a collision that occurred was due to the insured driver's negligence. To establish negligence, students must eliminate certain possibilities. Students must identify that the initial speed on impact is the determining variable that will prove in favor or against negligence. Knowing the acceleration on impact (from a doctor's evaluation of seat belt lacerations) and the displacement (determined from a crumple zone measurement), students construct a case for or against negligent driving. ZPD in PBL Example
    13. 13. The ZPD needs to be considered when designing this project based on the expected learning outcomes. This can also be differentiated for each group. The scaffolding that will be put in place needs to be designed to move students through the ZPD and then removed. Scaffolding can also be differentiated for each group. Scaffolding should consist of learning sessions and collaboration/interaction. ZPD in PBL Example (cont’d)
    14. 14. Design the framework of a PBL instructional unit for one of your science courses that considers the zone of proximal development. • Use the handouts of this presentation to refer to as you work on your task. Now it is Your Turn! Consider ZPD in designing the framework for you PBL instruction. Start with a unit/topic that is a good fit for PBL.
    15. 15. Sharing and Reflecting Volunteers to share what their groups have developed? Journal about our learning on PBL and considering ZPD in PBL.
    16. 16. References Chen, C., Feng, R.-F., & Chiou, A.-F. (2009). Vygotsky’s perspective applied to problem-based learning in nursing education. Fu-Jen Journal of Medicine, 7(3), 141–147. Constructivism. (2007). Retrieved from Edutopia Staff. (2008). Project-based learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from Grant, M. M. (2002). Getting a grip on project-based learning: theory, cases and recommendations. Meridian, 5(1). Retrieved from Gredler, M. E. (2009). Learning and instruction: theory into practice (6th ed., p. 461). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson. Harland, T. (2003). Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and problem-based learning: linking a theoretical concept with practice through action research. Teaching in Higher Education, 8(2), 263–272. doi:10.1080/1356251032000052483 Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010). Essentials for learning. Educational Leadership, 68(1). Retrieved from Lasry, N. (2010). Problem-based learning: first day on the job. Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development. Retrieved from PresenterMedia. (2013). Atom molecule presentation. Retrieved from FX102828209.aspx Theory behind pbl. (n.d.). Stanford. Retrieved November 02, 2013, from