Dynamic Assessment: Definition, Process & Examples

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  • 0:00 Vygotsky's Theory of…
  • 1:50 Process of Dynamic Assessment
  • 3:30 Examples: Usage of…
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Esther Bouchillon

Esther has taught middle school and has a master's degree in gifted education.

This lesson provides a review of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development and how dynamic assessment is used to find a student's zone of proximal development through a process of pretest, teach, and retest.

Vygotky's Theory of Education

As a student, would you enjoy sitting in a boring class with a teacher droning on about material you already know and understand? Or, perhaps you would enjoy a class on a topic so far above your abilities that you leave feeling frustrated and defeated? Neither of these situations is a pleasant one for any student. Teachers make every effort to avoid both scenarios by continuously using dynamic assessment, the process of assessing students to determine exactly what the learning needs of each student are.

Dynamic assessment is a part of Lev Vygotsky's theory of education. According to Vygotsky, students learn when they are in their zone of proximal development, what we'll also refer to as ZPD. This theory states that there are three zones. One zone contains information the student has already mastered and is capable of doing on his own. A second zone is for information the student can understand with assistance or prompting from the teacher. The third and final zone contains information outside of the student's current level of understanding, even with assistance.

Vygotsky called the second zone, where students can understand information with assistance, the student's ZPD. It is within this zone that learning takes place, and the goal is to push the zone forward, moving information from what the student can understand with assistance into the zone of mastery. Dynamic assessment aids the instructor in understanding where a student's ZPD is.

Although the term dynamic assessment implies a type of evaluation, it isn't really. The purpose of assessment is to discover what a student already knows. Dynamic assessment blends teaching and assessing into a singular activity. It helps the teacher support the learner at the level they most need it, giving them appropriate challenges so that the lesson is not too difficult and frustrating nor too easy and boring.

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