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Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Model of Development

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Carson Bennett

on 25 January 2014

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Transcript of Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Model of Development

“It can be said that much of contemporary developmental psychology is the science of the strange behavior of children in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest possible periods of time.”
-Urie Bronfenbrenner,
Before Bronfenbrenner, developmental psychology focused on individual influences on development in unnatural settings
Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner

Bioecological Model of Human Development
P - P - C - T
Process - Person - Context - Time
The "
Bioecological Model of Human Development
" focuses on the impact that environment--in addition to biology--has on an individual's development.
The Process
The interactions between an individual and her environment.
The Person
The student and his biological characteristics
These include such characteristics as:
Age, gender, appearance
Intelligence, skills, access to housing
Perseverance, the drive to succeed
ontext &
This is the "important part." Bronfenbrenner theorized that human development is influenced by the interactions (the "
rocesses") between a
erson and their environmental systems (the "Context"). There are five systems:
1. The Microsystem
2. The Mesosystem
3. The Exosystem
4. The Macrosystem
5. The Chronosystem
Bronfenbrenner changed developmental psychology by calling attention to the large number of environmental influences on child development; from the people & institutions immediately surrounding
a person to nation-wide cultural forces.

Case Study: A real life example from MCPS
You are a 9th grade teacher. One of your students, "Johnny," is a well-behaved teenager who shows potential, but is doing poorly in your class. You have noticed that he often comes to school with poor hygiene, dirty clothes and you suspect that he doesn't have enough to eat for lunch. Johnny is often very sleepy in your class, well beyond the "first period" yawns.

Keeping in mind Brofenbrenner's systems, how could you help Johnny become a better student?
An Individual. Is he just the way he is... ?
Or is he also shaped by those closest to him?
How much of his development is influenced by his teachers and peers?
And how much is influenced by his broader community?
How should this perspective affect your interactions with students?
Should you take into consideration their other ecosystems?
In one sentence....
Bronfenbrenner created a framework to distinguish and categorize the various factors that influence human development. This begins with:

"The P-P-C-T Model"

The Ecology of Human Development: Urie Bronfenbrenner, 1979

Making Human Beings Human; Urie Bronfenbrenner, editor; 2005

Association for Psychological Science Observer; November 11, 2005

Urie Bronfenbrenner & Morris P.A.; 2006; "The Bioecological model of human development"; Handbook of Child Psychology (pp. 793-828)
Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Model of Human Development
Context & Time
This is the part of Bronfenbrenner's theory most relevant to you in your classroom. He created five "systems" to categorize influences on development. These are:
1. The Microsystem
2. The Mesosystem
3. The Exosystem
4. The Macrosystem
5. The Chronosystem
I Context I
Bronfenbrenner had a profound effect on education due to his ability to translate his operational models into effective social policy.
In 1964, he testified before a congressional hearing concerning the anti-poverty bill. Shortly thereafter, he helped develop a method to counteract effects of poverty that became Head Start in 1965.
His cross cultural, multi-disciplinary approach shattered barriers between the social sciences, helping researchers find the necessary keys to help children self-actualize.
Northwood HS has a Wellness Center with this goal in mind:

"... to help students in the community reach their full potential by offering coordinated medical care, quality counseling, positive youth development, and health education experiences in a confidential and culturally sensitive manner."


Eco --> bioeco
"Renamed bioecological to account for biological processes. Since 1970s, this theory provided a fuller more powerful explanation of the dynamic and multitiered ecology of human development.
... and even impacted national education policy
Your students live complex lives outside of the classroom. Here are some questions to consider as you interact with them in the classroom.


• How responsive are the parents/guardians?
• Family income level?
• Older siblings?
• Member a church/temple/mosque?
• Playing organized sports?
• Member of any other extracurricular organizations (e.g. Scouts)?


• How might the student’s microsystem affect the student’s interaction with you?
• How might the student’s microsystem affect her performance in school?
• Through instruction or modeling behavior, how can you help a student improve his interactions with other people in his microsystem (e.g. with his parents, peers, siblings)?


• How might school district policy affect your interactions with students?
• What does the student’s community outside of school look like?
• Where do they live (e.g. subsidized housing, homeless, wealthier neighborhood)?


• How does a student’s race/ethnicity affect their performance and interactions in class?
• What kind of music does a student listen to?
• What TV shows does a student watch?
• Who are the student’s celebrity role models?
• How does a student self-express (e.g. piercings, clothing, style, social clique)?
• Is the student LGBTQ?


• What major society-wide or community-wide changes might affect a student?
• What major life even might affect a student (e.g. a divorce, just moving to town, illness in the family, pet goldfish died)?

A Teacher’s Tip Sheet
For maintaining awareness of your students’ ecological systems

... and more broadly impacted education
Bronfenbrenner profoundly impacted developmental psychology
A More Holistic Approach
Bioecological Theory in Educational Practice
Full transcript