The zone of proximal development - optimizing the challenge level


The zone of proximal development refers to a skill level above the current skill level, yet being possible to reach with effort and the help of others. However, we easily keep doing things we can deliver effortlessly in our current skill level instead of stretching our abilities. Learning is about stepping out of one's current comfort zone.

From where i stand
Photo by travelnow.or.crylater / Unsplash
  • If a learning goal feels impossible to achieve it is time to split it down into smaller, achievable goals and to think through what kind of support it would take to achieve them.
  • It is often an educative experience to participate in challenging projects with more experienced team members. Even though one would feel junior to others and yet not capable of fully participate in all activities, these challenges boost learning.
  • When delivering training for others, it is useful to design the exercises in a way that they are feasible with real effort but not too difficult for the students to deliver. Assignments that are too difficult only make the students feel frustrated and incapable to deliver.
  • When it is a moment to select books to read, courses to participate or projects to deliver, it is worth reviewing which of them would be most educative. Consciously raising the challenge level can speed up learning remarkably.

Finding the right level is not always easy, but helps to accelerate learning and skills development. Therefore it is worth paying attention to.

In which situations you would benefit from the help and support of more experienced people?

When could you increase the challenge level for your team members?