Lev Vygotsky

 Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) was a Soviet psychologist whose research has contributed to the field of cognitive psychology over the several decades in particular and has had a significant place in the cross-cultural research program at LCHC. In his cultural-historical approach to development, Vygotsky argued that community plays a crucial role in processes of meaning making and cognitive development. In effect, development cannot be separated from its social context.

Vygotsky is also know for his concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, which suggests that knowledge is always dependent on a combination of previous learning and the availability of instruction. That is, the difference between what a leaner can do on his/her own versus what the learner can achieve with assistance. According to Vygotsky, the Zone of Proximal Development is:

“…the distance between the actual developmental 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. For example, two 8 yr. old children may be able to complete a task that an average 8 yr. old can do. Next, more difficult tasks are presented with very little assistance from an adult. In the end, both children were able to complete the task. However, the styles methods they chose depended on how far they were willing to stretch their thinking process (Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes)”

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