Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist devised a concept known as the zone of proximal development (ZPD).
ZPD describes the optimal learning environment which can be thought of as something like a ‘Goldilocks Theory.’
Sometimes work can be too easy, sometimes work can be too hard… and sometimes the work is just right. When we are in this sweet spot and the work is just right, this is the optimal learning environment.
Comfort Zone Vs Frustration Zone
If work is too easy, learners can do the work in their comfort zone and no learning (adaption) will take place. I’m fact, oftentimes the learner will become bored and disinterested.
On the flip side, if the work (exercise) is too hard the learner becomes frustrated, can lose motivation, and will possibly give up.
The ZPD theory suggests that the area between the comfort zone and the frustration zone is where learning will take place. It’s where the learner will be challenged enough to seek help or work hard to; develop the required skill, understand a concept, or complete a specific task.
“A learner is neither bored nor frustrated, but appropriately challenged.”
When programming exercises for your clients, the goal is to challenge them in their optimal learning zone. If the exercise is too easy your client will fail to adapt, too hard and they’ll lose motivation. The optimal learning zone is the ideal balance between exercising in the comfort zone and exercising in the frustration zone, this is area where your clients will achieve optimum success.
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