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Bio-Ecological Theory of Child Development

Insight into Bronfenbrenner's Bio-Ecological conception of child development within a complex interconnecting system of contextual layers.

Jess Board

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of Bio-Ecological Theory of Child Development

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli Bio-ecological Theory of Development Children have layers?? According to Bronfenbrenner and Ceci (1994, p.571), development initially occurs through interactions between an organism and their environment. These influential relationships with other people, objects and symbols within a child’s context also maintain a significant effect on learning.
The bio-ecological model is underpinned by the principle that although biology is crucial in development, genetic material is not the sole definer of ‘finished traits’ within an individual, with development influenced by other interactions with a child’s social and cultural environment (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994, p.571).
There is a symbiotic relationship between children and their context which must be considered by teachers in analysing student actions within the classroom, as it can be argued that “an individual’s characteristics and behaviour can affect the environment, and that environment influences each individual’s development” (Krause, Bochner, Duchesne & McMaugh, 2010, p.368) Bioecological model The Child The Microsystem An important aspect of culture which makes up a child's macrosystem, permeating other layers of their context and wider life (Krause et al, 2010) Ethnicity - There is optimum level of stimulation within each systems of a child’s environment, which remains necessary for their development. ‘Environmental chaos’, refers to the nature and consequential effects of overly high levels of stimulation (noise, overcrowding) within a child’s context,, and this can maintain a detrimental effect upon their development. On the other hand, stimulation-deprived environments (often in poverty-stricken situations) can slow down and hinder appropriate development. (Evans & Wachs, 2010, pp.3-4). Environmental Chaos Evans and Wachs (2010, p.8) propose that the bio-ecological systems model remains comprised of four major components including the ‘processes’ (activities, relationships and practices experienced by the individual), ‘person’ (personal characteristics and dispositions), ‘context’ (the environment in which the individual is engaged in) and ‘time’ (the ‘temporal exposure’ affecting an individual) involved in interaction. These four crucial elements cooperate to shape and guide physical and cognitive development (Bronfenbrenner in Krause et al, 2010, p.366).
Context can further be compartmentalised as a series of interrelated layers and systems, with the child remaining at the heart of this ecological view (White & Renk, 2011, p.159). The child is at the centre of interactions with their environment, and thus, positioned at the core of a bio-ecological approach! The relationships and interactions within a child’s immediate environment compose the ‘microsystem’ layer of context (Ryan, 2001, p.2), and these may include parent-child relations, and dealings involving ‘significant others’ which directly influence the child Due to its close proximity with the child, changes within this environment can have profound impact across other areas of life, as witnessed in her schooling. IMPLICATIONS!!! PLACEMENT EXPERIENCE The Mesosystem The mesosytem involves connection between a child's settings. Such significant relationships may occur between school and home, and their proximity to the child influences their development and learning. The exosystem The exosystem refers to settings and structures in a child's life which, although the child is not directly involved, still impact their development (Krause et al, 2010). It is this layer which defines the child's larger social system, and involves interactions with structures in the child's own microsystem. This may include a parent's work place and associated effects (Ryan, 2001). Macrosystem This system is primarily concerned with 'societal' and 'cultural' practices impacting development (Krause et al, 2010). The macrosystem is the outmost layer of context, and effects taking place at this level seep down into all other systems closer to the child (Ryan, 2001). Cultural valuing of parenting, specific to the child's ethnicity could be just one influence on their parental relationships within the microsytem. Chonosystem The chronosystem refers to the influence of each system within a child's context. Effects are both external (timing of the death of a relative), or internal (emotional development over time (Ryan, 2001). Environmental Chaos is more likely to occur in low socio-economic contexts- an important aspect for teacher consideration! Consideration of a child's context maintains important links to sociocultural theory of development, particularly, the macrosystem. Vygotsky (in Krause et al, 2010, p.80) asserts that social, cultural and historical contexts play a crucial role in an individual’s cognitive development and learning processes. Children are perceived to develop not simply as individuals, but rather, as members of a particular society and culture (Krause et al, 2010, p.80). Furthermore, sociocultural theorists view learning as embedded within the child’s ‘external social world’ (Scherba de Valenzuela, 2002), and ultimately, occurring as a result of collaboration between individuals and other people, objects and events within this immediate environment (Wang, Bruce & Hughes, 2011, p.297). Sociocultural theory
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