Vygotsky's zone of proximal development: Rethinking its instructional implications

Luis C. Moll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper proposes an alternate model of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development. It is argued that conceptions of thezone» emphasizing the transfer of skills from adult to child are too narrow, theoretically misleading, and of limited instructional utility. The concept is then examined in relation to Vygotsky's broader theoretical and practical concerns. Examples taken from a recent classroom observational study are provided to illustrate how the concept of the zone can facilitate a critical assessment of children and of the social system created for the children to learn. The focus is on the appropriation and mastery of mediational means, such as writing, assessed not only or necessarily through independent performance after guided practice, hut by the ability of children to participate in qualitatively new collaborative activities. The role of the adult isn't to provide structured cues to facilitate performance, but through exploratory talk and other social mediations assist children in taking control of their own learning. The concern is not only with creating individual zones of proximal development, but collective, interrelated zones as part of a teaching system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-168
Number of pages12
JournalInfancia y Aprendizaje
Issue number51-52
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


  • Literacy acquisition
  • Vygotsky's theory
  • Zone of Proximal Development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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