Assignment 1: Applying Developmental Theory to Your Life


Assignment 1: Applying Developmental Theory to Your Life     


Think of a particular time in your childhood, e.g., age 4, age 5. age 10. Use Bronfenbrenner’s approach to development to place yourself in a fairly complete developmental context. Write completely about the following five systems (be sure to label). 


Review all of your answers carefully. What have you learned about Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Approach to Development that might help you understand your own development and/or you future work with children


The microsystem are the things that have direct contact with the child in their immediate environment, such as parents, siblings, teachers and school peers.

Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional, meaning the child can be influenced by other people in their environment and is also capable of changing the beliefs and actions of other people too.

Furthermore, the reactions of the child to individuals in their microsystem can influence how they treat them in return.

The interactions within microsystems are often very personal and are crucial for fostering and supporting the child’s development. If a child has a strong nurturing relationship with their parents, this is said to have a positive effect on the child.  Whereas, distant and unaffectionate parents will have a negative effect on the child.

Describe the following:

  • Family
  • School and Teacher
  • Peer Group
  • Media (favorite TV shows, books, movies
  • Surrounding community

The mesosystem encompasses the interactions between the child’s microsystems, such as the interactions between the child’s parents and teachers, or between school peers and siblings.

The mesosystem is where a person’s individual microsystems do not function independently, but are interconnected and assert influence upon one another. For instance, if a child’s parents communicate with the child’s teachers, this interaction may influence the child’s development. Essentially, a mesosystem is a system of microsystems.


According to the ecological systems theory, if the child’s parents and teachers get along and have a good relationship, this should have positive effects on the child’s development, compared to negative effects on development if the teachers and parents do not get along.

Describe the following:

  • How my parents interacted with my peers
  • How my parents interacted with my school (Did your parents help with schoolwork? Were they a school volunteer?)
  • How did your community support your school or activities (eg, sports)?

The exosystem incorporates other formal and informal social structures, which do not themselves contain the child, but indirectly influence them as they affect one of the microsystems.

Examples of exosystems include the neighborhood, parent’s workplaces, parent’s friends and the mass media. These are environments in which the child is not involved, and are external to their experience, but nonetheless affects them anyway.

An instance of exosystems affecting the child’s development could be if one of the parents had a dispute with their boss at work. The parent may come home and have a short temper with the child as a result of something that happened in the workplace, resulting in a negative effect on development.

Describe the following:

  • My parents’ jobs
  • Vacations we took
  • Divorce or other separation issues in my family

The macrosystem is focuses on how cultural elements affect a child’s development, such as socioeconomic status, wealth, poverty, and ethnicity. Thus, culture that individuals are immersed within may influence their beliefs and perceptions about events that transpire in life.

The macrosystem differs from the previous ecosystems as is does not refer to the specific environments of one developing child, but the already established society and culture which the child is developing in. This can also include the socioeconomic status, ethnicity, geographic location and ideologies of the culture.

For example, a child living in a third world country would experience a different development than a child living in a wealthier country.

Describe the following:

  • Ethnic heritage
  • Religious affiliations
  • Where I lived — urban (city) or rural (country) setting
  • Social class (poor, working class, middle class, wealthy)
  • What was going on in the world at the time (eg, Vietnam war, who was president, etc.)?

The fifth and final level of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is known as the chronosystem. This system consists of all of the environmental changes that occur over the lifetime which influence development, including major life transitions, and historical events.

These can include normal life transitions such as starting school but can also include non-normative life transitions such as parents getting a divorce or having to move to a new house, or how a single historical event (such as the terrorist attacks of 2001) affected your?

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