NOMAD 15(2), 2010. Cooperation and collaboration as zones of proximal development within the mathematics classroom

Cooperation and collaboration as zones of proximal development within the mathematics classroom

Sharada Gade


Beyond understanding the Vygotskian construct of zone of proximal development or ZPD with reference to an individual student, this paper explores the formation of ZPD within the pedagogical constructs of cooperation, wherein students cooperate with each other within their groups; as well as collaboration, wherein students from different groups that constitute the classroom collaborate with each other. Identified on the basis of functions that are in the process of maturing, the formation of either ZPD is exemplified from a socio-cultural-historical study at an upper secondary mathematics classroom in Norway. An emphasis on what distinguishes events in instruction that are educational from those that are not is also explored, before illustrating what nature of ZPD is established. The role of guidance received, imitation and cultural resources in the development of higher mental functions is understood as these ZPD are formed, enabling students to act independently within the classroom teaching-learning of mathematics.

Sharada Gade

Sharada Gade combined her long teaching experience at Vidyaranya High School, Hyderabad, India with writing for teachers and popularisation. At University of Agder, Norway she pursued her doctorate in mathematics education with a classroom based thesis drawing upon sociocultural and activity theory perspectives. As Visiting fellow at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai, she taught master and doctoral courses and conducted narrative inquiry with middle school teachers about their experiences of classroom teaching-learning. Currently as postdoctoral researcher at Umeå University, Sweden, Sharada continues her pursuit of understanding classrooms as productive teaching-learning environments for students, their teachers and research.