Dynamic Assessment for Better Placement: Implications of Vygotsky’s ZAD and ZPD

Hessam Agheshteh


As argued by Poehner (2008), Dynamic Assessment (DA) can substantially improve our understanding of students’ abilities and promote their development at the same time by providing information on both the individuals’ Zone of Actual Development (ZAD) and their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and this way helps us avoid overestimates and underestimates of these individuals’ abilities. The present study, as a result, was an attempt to investigate the role DA can play in students’ placement into appropriate levels and courses of education. For this end, the researchers observed and recorded the placement interviews of four placement teachers in the Iran Language Institute (ILI) and Nashr-e-Zaban. The researchers analyzed the gathered data and found out that the placement teachers dealt more with the students’ ZAD than their ZPD. Adopting the Interactionist Model of DA, and believing that “understanding individuals’ abilities necessitates intervention” (Poehner, 2008, p. 113), the researchers discussed DA and its key concepts including ZPD, mediation, scaffolding, intervention, the assessment-instruction integration and the role these could play in a better prediction of the students’ future performance and emergent abilities. Having discussed DA and its key concepts using some examples from previous placement interviews in a six-hour course, the researchers observed and recorded the placement interviews of the four teachers in the following term. The gathered data were transcribed and interpreted to see if the intervention had an effect on placement teachers’ performance of placement interviews. The results showed that placement teachers then relied more on DA and its key concepts as better indicators of students’ future performance. The implications are for those teachers who hold placement interviews to adopt a more development-oriented approach and assess the students’ both ZAD and ZPD so that they can avoid misplacements into inappropriate levels and courses.



Dynamic Assessment, placement, ZAD, ZPD

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.4n.5p.190


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