A student has entered ZPD when:
1. he or she does NOT perform a TASK but has to solve a problem (very briefly: " task" - when one knows what and how to do to achieve the goal; "a problem" - when one does not know how to achieve the goal (at least in full); more on this difference here, and here and here; I hope some day in the future I will finally write one large paper on ZPD).
2. he or she has the most of knowledge and skills and experience to understand the solution if it would have been presented by a teacher;
3. he or she can construct the solution with the guidance from a teacher within a reasonable time and with a reasonable effort from the student, and the help of a teacher should not be negligible and dominating.
Since the solution has to be constructed, a student most probably will be making mistakes.
True (actual, full, complete) learning cannot happen without making mistakes.
Mistakes are inevitable and unavoidable.
There is no shame in making a mistake.
There is shame, though, in insisting that you didn't, when even you already know that you did.
A culture where mistake are being punished cannot succeed in Science, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (and intellectually in general; but, keep in mind, that "grading" is not necessary "punishment").
Any assessment can be described by a set of parameters, including "difficulty" or "hardness". Only specific values of this parameter (harder than "too easy", but easier than "too hard") would place the assignment into ZPD of a student.
This is just a fact, that the same assignments (e.g. physics problems) may be too easy for some students and too difficult for other students. In both cases the learning is not happening, because a student did not have to learn anything, or could not learn anything. Hence, when designing teaching practice, a teacher has to manage the difficulty of the assignments - for all students - making assignment not too easy and not too hard, i.e. placing them in ZPD of the students. How to do it, and what do to if that is not a case is a completely different conversation.
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