The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

Living Edition
| Editors: Vlad Petre Glăveanu (Editor-in-Chief)

Zone of Proximal Development

Living reference work entry


The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is a concept mostly associated with Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist. The concept is primarily concerned with social and participatory learning and refers to the space between what a child can do on his or her own and what the child can do with help from someone more capable. However, the ZPD is about more than passive scaffolding from the more capable other. Instead it is closely connected to the idea of expanding the possible, using one’s imagination, and pushing boundaries for what is known. This entry starts with defining the ZPD, and then the central part of the entry outlines the zone’s core principles and elaborates how the ZPD involves creativity, play, and emotions. Positive emotions make it easier to play with ideas and what is possible thinking. Play is a source for development, and Vygotsky’s ideas on creativity, play, and imagination can inspire how teachers teach. When children listen to the teacher or to each other’s experiences, they will be able to think in new ways, and the possible is broadened.


Creativity Zone of proximal development Vygotsky Play Emotions Dialogism Experience Imagination Sociocultural psychology 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology, Centre for the Sciences of Learning and Technology (SLATE)University of BergenBergenNorway

Section editors and affiliations

  • Wendy Ross
    • 1
  1. 1.Kingston UniversityKingstonUnited Kingdom