The zone of proximal development defines the zone between what the learner can do without any help or support from anyone and what the learner can not do at all. In other words, this zone of proximal development describes the various abilities that the learner can easily perform with proper supervision and motivation from someone other than themselves.
The zone of proximal development was originally developed by psychologist Lev Vygotsky to argue against the academic tests used to measure a student’s overall intelligence. According to him, when a learner is in the zone, providing them with the optimum guidance and support will help them carry out the task successfully and motivate them to perform the same independently in the future.
This set of skills are referred to as ‘proximal’, as the learner is quite close to doing it without any guidance, but still requires the supervision and guidance to do so.
A lot of time in literature, the said term and scaffolding are synonymously used. However, there is a difference, as scaffolding refers to the various activities that educators provide the student with to achieve their tasks or objective. The term scaffolding was not used by Vygotsky but was later termed by Wood, Bruner, and Ross.