DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity, Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016

Year: 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Morgan, David; Skaggs, Paul
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Brigham Young University
Section: Diversity
Page(s): 664-669
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is defined as the space between what a learner can do
without help and where the learner needs significant instruction. The ZPD is at the edge of where a
learner can succeed only with mentor guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers—in other
words someone who has a broader knowledge, experience, or skill set. This kind of support has been
termed scaffolding. Scaffolding suggests a temporary and flexible support that can be quickly and
easily assembled and disassembled once the learning task is accomplished. The learner’s ZPD
development is expanded and scaffolding is moved to the edge of the new learning frontier. Giving
learners the most rigorous tasks they can do with minimal scaffolding leads to the greatest learning
This paper discusses the ZPD in terms of a collaborative design project where collaborative mentors
use a student-created artefact to pull a learner to a series of “need to know” places--places that indicate
the edge of the learner’s independent ability. The successful completion of the artefact requires the
learner to connect with a number of collaborators, courses, and disciplines, each with specific
knowledge, experience, tools, and/or skillsets. These collaborative mentors combine to provide the
scaffolding the learners need to complete the artefact in a efficient and uninterrupted path. We further
discuss the advantages of extending this “need to know” impetus across course boundaries in a
collaborative teaching environment and the struggles of implementing a more complex collaborative
design project.

Keywords: Instructional Scaffolding, Zone of Proximal Development, Collaborative Design Project.


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