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The Experimental Ecology of Education

Author(s): Urie Bronfenbrenner
Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 5, No. 9 (Oct., 1976), pp. 5-15
Published by: American Educational Research Association
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teacher. is requirements that."quasi-experimental" a.shall employ a terminology adapted from Brim (1975). The first comprises the rela- tions between the characteristics of learners and the surroundings in which they live out their lives (e. but theycareful attempt to control for possi.) A setting is defined as a place in which the occupants engage in particular activities in particular roles (e.within the next. and role constitute the elements strictly scientific grounds. community). As I shall of a setting.2 on Fri. Whether and how people learn nature or natural experiment. there are many instances in which a design exploiting an experiment of nature provides a more critical contrast. they affect learning conmore elegant and constitutes ment. home. Our researches cannot be re3. or topologically as a nested arrangenot mean that laboratory experitheir structural components. The second encompasses the relations and interconnections that exist between these environments. permits more precise and theoretically sig- October 2) The meso-system comprises the interrelations among the major settings containing the learner at a particular point in his or her life. and the latter as an experiment of 2.other relevant factors. short. tion I regard as unwarranted on 1) A micro-system is an immediate setting containing the learner (e. insures greater objectivity. For the purpose of must be carried out with explicit bly confounding influences.g.. they must be carried out in real-life educational settings. home. classroom. or systems. must be met if we are to makethe ecology of education and stitutes "harder" science than the best posprogress in the scientific study of represents a major and necessary sible contrived experiment adfocus for educational research. etc. -because it suggests a lower level of methodological rigor.73. indeed. educational systems and processes. distorting nature of the laboratorying on subject characteristics or as a setting and deliberately de. neighborhood.. in my relations judg. is Asthe ecological experiment. carried out in real-life situations. investigating person-environment and istricted to the laboratory. b.224. activity. either describing these successive levels.g.) for particular periods of time. defined Educational Environment as a systematic contrast between two will be indicated below. The strategy of choice fortion. I shall refer to the complement companion researches former as a contrived experiment. I dein educational settings is a function liberately eschew the term typically of sets of forces.. signed to articulate closely with and Henceforth. this does The environment is conceived or more environmental systems. essential purpose. dressed to the same research ques1. an implica- endeavor to show. school. The factors of place.The Experimental Ecology of Education' URIE BRONFENBRENNER Cornell University Ishall begin by stating threeThe basic scientific study of both sets of nificant inferences . for an American elementary school child. with a ment of structures. 5 . etc.g. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. work place. day care center.jstor. at two employed in the literature of statislevels: tical design . each contained ments cannot serve a useful and. I recognition of the delimiting and by random assignment or by match. the meso- 1976 This content downloaded from 164. pupil. peer group. for the environment-environment relations The Ecological Structure of the most part.

same: to maximize one's sensitivityclassical psychological experiment. among others. agencies of government of all? That which seems to you the mental design cannot be simplistic. cent. thereby." And wheth-the ecological experiment that disof information and ideology that. as they operate at theSchwerste van allem? Was dir has velopment of the learner. state. 1951). it might include as well church. communication and transIf looking is not enough. tional settings. or other to phenomena through the juxtaantecedent and consequent condipersons directly involved in the position of contrasts. It testing but discovery-the identifitures include the major institu-falls within the purview of those cation of those systems-properties tions of the society.system typically encompasses interactions among family.prescience: "Was ist das affected by. is of especial importance in deterside. the early concrete social structures. television. constitutes the core of the experi.tems or system states. the foregoing conception of the nifying power. of which loby my first mentor in graduate possible more precise detection of cal micro-. that one can begin to see clear. try to budge the one and see what happens to the other. but also. both deliber-events of which Goethe wrote with and processes that affect.change are viewed not solely in treated and interact with each tween them. the only way to discover the nature of this inertia.we must undertake an analysis of ic relation between person and tion has an even more important the properties of systems involving tions. that imsirable for heuristic purposes. although the last would be less common in the United States than in some other societies. As with a tions are couched in terms of varialearning process have any place vernier. er one studies change by deliberately tinguishes it from the laboratory both explicitly and implicitly. such as the ecoing a highly differentiated and me a quarter of a century ago. for some children. legal before I was ready to appreciate it. to see with one's eyes what it is necessarily complex. if you want to understand some-perhaps most important feature of in structural terms but as carriers thing. quicken their sensitivity to the trolling critifor possibly confounding 4) Macro-systems are the overcal features of the observed? The factors. social netploiting an "experiment of nature. and national). in distribution of goods and servis lying before them. long nomic. These en-Leichtests dunket. crisp New England ac-and structure of ecological systems.thereby sensitive grid that makes and political systems. camp. the experimedia. It is from this perspective that the primary purpose of the ecological ing milieu. as well as the dynamBut the strategy of experimenta. Indeed.73. To understand ties. ador priority in these macro-systems but different systems are put side by ditive. it is only when two similar bles that are conceived as linear. (local. or work place. and informal one to do? How can observers and essential requirement of consocial networks. both use of the experiment becomes deformal and informal. as differences in sysEspecially in its formal propermental method and creates its mag. And. whatitismust fulfill more than the usual portation facilities. school. this paper may be viewed as an attempt to provide psychological and sociological substance to Lewin's brilliantly conceived topological sum. pupils. namepinge upon or encompass the imly.2 on Fri. gy of education. the behavior and dely evolving. activities. meso-.terms of different levels of one or other in different types of educaposition of the similar but different more separate variables. and are ately structured and spontaneoushis poet's. environment. to analyze systematically the nature of the relation that exists bemediate settings containing the tween the learner and the surroundlearner and. is to try to disturb the existing balance. That relation is not an experiment becomes not hypothesiswhat goes on there. stated succinctly.jstor. the meso-territories. To adapt Dearborn's dictum to this domain: if you wish to understand the relation between the learner and some aspect of the environment. social. teachers. It must perform the more arching institutions of the culture answer to this question was givenscientifically fruitful task of providor subculture. roles.and primarily. parents. Whether children.224. 1936. mit den Augen environment as here conceived encompass. In differences and changes in the state and even determine or delimit tems are the concrete manifesta- his quiet. what is meant by these constructs. influence the recognition that the relation be- tween person and environment has the properties of a system with a momentum of its own. and its interdependencies. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to . and their the methodological objective is thederlying research model. but in the nature of the unworks. In situation implied in our definition of the ecology of education. Walter Fenno Dearborn. Such macro-systems are conceived and examined not only 6 ER This content downloaded from 164. Implicit in this injunction is system is the system of micro-sys- The Experiment as a tems. was vor den Augen dir compasses both immediate and of work. educational." (What is the most difficult larger social contexts. ices. peer group. the worldze sehen. massdeigt. These struc-easy phenomenon to recognize. he remarked: "BronfenbrenThis brings us to yet another and ner. and distinct from each other. In the interrelations. The systematic juxta.) keeping with its heuristic function. the easiest. status and mining how such persons are ly the nature of the differences be. draws heavily on the theories of Kurt Lewin (1935. asset that makes its early applica- tion critical for research in the ecolo- 3) The exo-system is an extensionHeuristic Strategy of the meso-system embracing the In ecological research. Since the local community level. 1948. enaltering conditions in a contrived ex-prototype: The difference lies not dow meaning and motivation to periment or by systematically ex-only in the requirement of a real-life particular agencies.In an ecological model."setting. try to change it. the neighborhood. and exo-sysschool.

Two types of omissions are ecological experiment entails a especially noteworthy in this regard. since teacher expectancy at all. The ecological integrity of the setting. Thus the can were never asked any quesethnic.224. or the roles and activities wasdo shorter. exemplary research of Seaver cited above. Contextual validity. and Piliavin's origins in the desire to eliminate the third proposition. the relation between learner and the Immediate Setting Real-life vs. If a "determined effort is ance of school children. The experiment must indeed be kept to a minimum. the results may give a simulation experiments? Is not this a reasonable road as well. The caution the roles and activities in which the or expectations toward youngsters against placing research particiassigned to the experimental vs. time. roles.) In consequence.sibling. Rodin.focus on objective behavior to the decrease manifestations of comneglect of subject elements-the Particularly when these procedures perceptions and feelings of the perare administered in university setpetence and consideration for others data are becoming available on the issue. (Also not examined appropriate to the situation and situation applies not only to the imin Seaver's study was the role of have established social meaning formediate setting. ing picture of how effectively the more likely to evoke constructive very same persons may in fact be The exclusion of the subjective from the domain of rigorous scienactivity in adults is indicated in functioning in their own milieu. This is the basis for the people and pieces from the oustide world. subculture. Finally. place. the their native habitat.73. whether they held different attitudes what happens in real life. gel. Lamb 1975b). are possibly confounded. if the Presumably. The foregoing proposition is violated. distortions to a minimum.that might have shed light on they come. the results indicate that the strangeness and ambiguity of the laboratory situation tend to increase negative feeling states and (Ross et al. or also last long enough to approximate cially is an experiment of nature. in this instance. to reality? In the last analysis. or asked to engage in a task. whenever research participants are placed in a setting.fects in in a real-life situation were obsetting for particular research tained in an ingenious exploitation turn.amined only the presumed effects ing investigated constitutes an intru. study (1969) of reactions to persons October 1976 This content downloaded from 164. and perhaps parents thereof . the participants. did not actually investigate can never be fully achieved. the participants are engaged should be pants in an ecologically ambiguous control group. These properties. this to-date most As in all science. that is. or might occur if social policies or practices were altered. performance on the tory. the foregoing re- definitive study of teacher expectan- quirement represents an ideal that cy. then. 1967. or other operations borrowed from the laboratory. older Rie. tions how they viewed their pupils. But what about the possitransmitter of the message to the ecologically invalid for the group in bility of bringing into the laboratory younger child may have been the question. This is first is illustrated in the otherwise determined effort to keep such the requirement of preserving the Phenomenological validity. and represents yet another ardized psychological tests. This pectancies first reported by Rosenis the requirement of contextual The Micro-system: Properties of thal and Jacobson (1968). Laboratory Proposition 1. locale condition for which the laboratory into which the participants should are have been greater when the age in interval between sibling pairs turns out to be an ecologically validplaced. not to transfer to the real-life situation of mention experimental measures of the limited perspective of the laboraconservation. must then be incorporated in participants are dictated by the the research models we employ of foran "experiment of nature" by characteristics of the larger social Seaver (1973) on the controversial investigating the ecology of educaand cultural context from which tion. but to the larger time as an element of the setting.2 on Fri. Specifically. 1970.e. as setting is for studying the behaviorwhich they are asked to engage. That naturalistic situations are also sons serving as subjects in the tings. it is noteworthy that the only are drawn. its exclusive prisoner's dilemma. they become setting. for example. the tradition of the labora- tory can put blinders on the re- searcher once he moves out into the world. the the society at large. In 7 ." however. An experiment is ecologically valid when it is conducted in settings that occur in the culture or subculture for other than research purposes. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. From this point ofcontext from which the participants the expectancy effect view. In contrast to the common experimental practice of employing only selected aspects of or analogues to the real-life situation (i. Similarly enhanced ef-Proposition 3. Tulkin. Proposition 2. that is alien to the socioeconomic.jstor. Ironically. and development of researchers in not occur frequently in theirSeaver own himself acknowledges. Sroufe. Instead. 1975. it exthe very fact that the setting is be. an But even in the absence of signifi- cant ecological ambiguity or dis- sonance. tific inquiry in all likelihood had its This consideration brings us to our distress. regardless offindings how common such experiences may Teacher be in expectancy may not have Preserving the integrity of the been operative at all. phenomenon of induced teacher exthe participants are drawn.of such expectancy on the performsion. The criteria for the ecological validity of a research environment. the intrusionteachers espe. The requirement of ecological validity applies to all the elements of the setting. or social milieu from which made. simulation) or introducing extraneous elements. or reasonable facsimilies severe criticism (Labov.. validity. this pants' against studies of social class andviews of the experimental The failure to obtain the partici1972) that has been properly levied is an empirical question and some ethnic differences based on stand- situation is typical of research in the area. 1975. and activities.

It is exposure to different kinds of setpaper by MacLeod (1947). of which one havior of participants in the systion-as a major determinant of ac.ceptual definitions explicit and sive changes over time. of certain persons. the main emphasis is again. Koffka. intact vs. mental effects are often couched in what Lewin (1935) called classtheoretical terms. In the setting cannot be understood without some information on how all these cases. these essentiallyalternative structures for child rearProposition 5. not of the behavior and development in subAccordingly. and and the people and activities within in group care. it is precisely in our capacity tests) with no information provided cal and its social structure. with both the outcomes. middle class. observed differences in children from one or another setting (e. 1928. tors have begun to employ research Bronfenbrenner. sustained. an eco"meaning. It is only recently that investigaThis is the requirement of phe"psychological field" (Lewin. fathercused primarily on the behavior experimental studies in education absent homes. person and the environment enof whether these elements are perIn psychology."personal equation" in early studies in astronomy and physics. from the very beginnings subject's performance. interpretations of environ- ficient for the human case. an ecologiof their discipline. American. its focus upon the dyfor the construct validation of exnamic relations between learners men define situations as real. were more ori. model. the defining core status of an immutable law is Corollary 4a.2 he is living in?" (p. kibbutz vs. an examination (Thomas & Thomas. Thomas & Thomas. But once to attribute meaning to stimuli that about the nature of the setting. it.. As human species turns out to be insufproposition.jstor. pp. 1938. models that allow not only for asple was applied to social psychosessing the effects upon children of logical experiments in a classic Participants in a vacuum.merits explicit mention as a corolla. In contrast to the The reason for the insufficiency classical laboratory study. the role of pergaged in reciprocal tensions and ceived by the participants in a ceived reality in influencing behavior manner consistent with the conactivities. or other environmental feative. Mead (1934). cross-cultural difexperimental participants. home care) are "explained" simply as attributes of the context in question. especially when the longitudinal study by Cochran researcher moves out of the laboraMacLeod emphasized the need to (1975. a research model that maythe besetting. the same role and designated as havioristic and thereby berefit ofand. 572). home care. The stric- ture has been seldom challenged in experimental psychology. activities. 304come measures (e. And even when the environment is described. . The princi. and tion. 1911). p. probably because so much of the work has been done with animals. 1976) of the development of answer the question: "What is 'there' for the individual . namely. developed. Wertheimer. it is in terms of a static.teristics of the children. It was the Chicago school be made for assessing each parof Cooley (1902). a result. setting and its various elements. the roles.tem is instigated. since ited to objective measures of the the former. 1928. 1930.from Proposition day care vs. that is. self-contained structure of relations and values that stressed the importance of the person's subjective view -in Thomas's makes no allowance for processes of A number of implications follow interaction through which the belanguage the definition of the situa. Proposition 4. For example. This is the requirement of pheThomas & Znaniecki. in terms of both its physi355). that is. and ticipant's definition of the situation. for." This omission is criticalferences in socialization and schoollogical experiment requires equal in research on human beings. especially. we come to our fourthsettings in which they are found. and education such as day care which scientific attention is fopact upon empirical work. some features of objective and are affected by the developing 1911. French vs.224. in was recognized by sociologists which the data are typically limearlier than by psychologists. not uncommon. it is child. In contrast to the conventional research model. this implies that the impacttures of that in fact account for the ob- we differ most from subhuman served differences or similarities. and to 8 ER This content downloaded from 164. lower class vs. What is the social structure of the world tory into the real-life . 1935.. From an ecological perspecpresent. provision must also real world. sized by Lewin in his concept of the implicit in the research design. all engaged in continued to be overwhelmingly beexperimental teaching programs. and its various elements. in family day care. Kohler.2 on Fri. 1927. A case in point is the ongoing 1929. by default. These deficiencies disproposition that approaches the close. 204). . Thus. . 1927) that nomenological analysis. psychological setting.g. on analyzing the differential characreasonably adequate for the study were of perceived by the participants. Drawnot only the subjective world that is tings but also for analyzing the ing upon the European tradition of excluded from the experimenter's structure and pattern of activity spephenomenological analysis in the view in the classical laboratory cific to each setting as these affect psychology of perception (Katz. in many studies of Unfortunately. family.73. and undergoing progresand development was first empha. reality are also ignored.g. in theoretical analyses had little im.nomenological experiment cannot be solely ented toward studying events in the behavioristic. and other elements species. so thatvs. 1951). data are reported only for outattention to the properties of the as Mead pointed out (1934. they perimental manipulations and are real in their consequences" and their surrounds. to Swedish children brought up in their omit description of the setting itself own homes. Perhaps the only sociological ry. how he or she perceives the in particular Thomas (Thomas. Phenomenological of an ecological approach to educaanalysis is especially important Thomas's inexorable dictum: "If tion. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about.

as E. not for definitive testing. often extends beyond a simple dyad 3) Laboratory studies have the The principle of reciprocity has to triads. ior of the different participants. This is the require- is one that many readers will recog-ment of recognizing the totality nize and applaud. and often still are. There the experimenter presents the well as care-taking adults. Klaus et al. not excluding the possibilities are systematically conproperty to which we call attention experimenter. school.224.the relations that obtain between the properties of the setting and the behavior manifested by the participants. As a case in point. the often. with few exceptions.. In most ing examined the properties that dis-still the analysis of his data. The periments and follow-up studies three or more elements and hence To examine this principle in prac- tice. It means.73. concern with mutual accommodation between learner and environ- ment implies consideration of the rics at Case Western Reserve Uni- lations taking place between the others. The role of laboratory experi- field. an ecological experifather-infant interaction. their primary scientific value is for the exploration and clarification of hypotheses. Even in are three major prerequisites that stimulus. 1972. person equally informatively de- more than two people acting in more and its derivatives. In contrast to the separately and interpreted as an inbe combined and closely articulated dependent effect. the classical psychoonly two parties-an experimenter. Thus. but also the efIn more general terms. we all know indicate the conditions under which the former approach can make a count the activities of more than sion: that the process goes both ways. 1976a).2 on Fri. that is. Kennel vestigations by Lamb (1976b. ments in educational research. which is limited to assessing the direct effect of two agents on each other.jstor. Havlogical experiment allows for only identified solely. etc. This is the requiresystem operating in a given setting ment of reciprocity... as on the ecology of education. It is a sign of some system will typically involve all likely to be recognized unless such progress that the first systems." The than two roles. One suspects that among the most significant psychological changes that take place in adulthood are those take into account the existence in the setting of systems that include that occur as a function of the be- Analysis of the Setting havior and development of our chil- as a System Even when educational research dren. for it reflects the there is usually also a father and. 1976c. and apparently two participants: E and S. Accordingly. in educational research. fact that. other siblings and adults. 1970. and.3 periment requires recognition of as they apply to the immediate setThe presence of N+3 systems the social system actually operating containing the learner. the actual possible distortions revealed by the fect of B on A. This is the requirement of analyz- ing social interactions and second-order effects in the N+2 systems. or has been viewed as unidirectional. In the classical of the functional social system in the setting. from naturalistic scribed as S-the "subject. and this fact advantage of being more readily special significance when applied to must be taken into account. unidirectional model typically employed in the lawe may consider recent work on settings.the participants. taken into account.sidered in the research setting. Their reduced ecological example. see Lamb (1975a. another real-life settings.. psychological research model. not only the ture. ment of setting analysis. ior in social situations is reciprocal and all of the critical elements are is generally accepted in principle. The October 1976 This content downloaded from 164. the 1) Laboratory experiments both more formal terms: behavior of each is usually analyzed in their design and execution. but Proposition 8. there are usually tinguish the laboratory situation. including the behav-versity (Hales et al. This Reciprocity. in the home settings. one of the few researchers multaneously as members of a syson parent-child interaction who has Ringler et al. with parallel researches in real-lifeconventional. tetrads. due regard to the limitations and effect of A on B. As we have already noted. For a 2) The results of laboratory exment must allow for reciprocal comprehensive review of this literaperiments must be interpreted with processes. there were. 1974. foregoing analysis. boratory. and associated higher effects is not tive in the research setting.. must Proposition 6. The next set of propositions employed a true three-person model deals with these systems-properties Proposition 7. and the subject gives thethose researches that take into acemerge from the preceding discusresponse. In contrast to the conventional dyadic research model. however. that we should look not validity. for the issue in propositional form: control. we are now in a position to term subject is apt. the requirementsis often disregarded in practice. whether in the laboratory or in the Beyond the dyad. there are other children. seriously limits the generalizability of results to real- life settings. in process operating between E and S valuable contribution to research the day care center. 1975). To state amenable to rigorous experimental educational research. tem. the design of an ecological experiment must also for the effect of the child on the development of the parent. si-et al. one may refer to a series of in- various factors. preschool. 1976d).org/terms 9 . This is the require. it of an ecological model are not yetPositive examples are found in a met so long as these elements are series of ingenious ecological exexamined only one at a time. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. operating as a subsystem. where they are in fact pres- ent. Nowadays. An ecological ex. In two persons in differing roles. conducted by a group of investiga- tors from the Department of Pediat- permit the indirect influence of any one of these on the direct re- While the thesis that most behav- is conducted in a real-life setting. only for the influence of the parent on the development of the child. 1976.

The optimal size of systems for various types of educational tasks. Once distinct from one another. there eration of higher order effects opare few investigations in which the erating indirectly. allows for the possibility of sequences can be conceived as second-order effects. complementarity. an N+3 system) must take into account all possible subordinate systems (i. and. provided both directly and indirectly through third parties. 1973. In the traditional Proposition 10.paradigm. linear. We have now concluded reference to their social-structural our analyses of systems properties properties. family and children's peer group. An ecological apexperiments must therefore takeleagues (Barker & Bump. but surely worthy of investigathe possibility that events in one tion. quent implications for learning and taining the child. Whereas in a con.e. We begin with a general principle that outlines the While learners have been studied range of phenomena the research tended to overlook the possible opmodel must encompass. and reinforcement. Proposition 11. these influences are The Meso-system: usually thought of as acting directly Relations Between Settings on the learner.4 asble exception.e.. the and additive. or the informal peer group. We consider next the implications for our research model of treatfects of exposure to more than one esses are of course not limited to ing two or more settings simultane.224. Some evidence that N+2 sysmilieu may influence the child's betems.need for such consideration dictates the following proposition: Proposition 9. Usually we carry out our in the immediate setting containing researches either in the laboratory.time. The design and analysis of an ecological experi- ment in a setting involving more than three persons (i. an ecological research model human beings. proach invites consideration of 10 ER This content downloaded from 164. but or sociated with them.setting at a time without regard time factors and features of theferent settings. 1964. from the perspective of an ecological theory. to possible interdependencies bephysical surroundings. including the ob& Wright. home and in systems-terms. . From a theoretical viewpoint. deal for enhancing educative and developmental processes appear in studies with a restricted segment of the day care. settings. tems terms. tinuity of the traditional research settings. But before turning to remain at the level of the microtion with parents or siblings in the these we must take note of yet anhome. and thereby highlights tions. This is the seldom in more than one context position to formulate a final comrequirement of comprehensive analysis of possible subsystems prehensive proposition regarding thesimultaneously. a second setting is introduced. and even there. Such theoretical state of the setting as a system. do have untapped potential Thus the experience of a child in the propositions they illustrate.setting. the argument runs the other way. etc.2 on Fri. they deal with only one setting at a and temporal factors. the resulting structure offers possibilities for greater sta- bility and power through mutual as- sistance. they propositions.jstor. etc. we have behavior and development of the Proposition 12. the immediate situation conother source of higher order effects.. but it also calls attention to the for the ecological research model importance of investigating joint is referred to as the conceptualieffects and interactions between setzation and analysis of the setting tings (for example. the organization of theenrichment generates an array of new and provocative research queselements of place. or the classroom. although in their repossible indirect influences on so- search. that is. particularly as they cut across havior and development in another. in a variety of environments. accordments both antecedents and coningly. Barker arrangements. or vice versa. roles. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. behavior and desame learners has been examined as ments of the setting that can invelopment are investigated in one stigate second-order effects are a function of their exposure to dif. we may note here a conand high-order effects within conceptual medel that underlies an ecological experiment. 1954) represents a notajects contained in the space. and ously.tween settings. however. school. This general requirement tive. in ecological experi-system becomes triadic and. settings are conceived and analyzed almost exclusively in beThe analysis of the setting in syshavioral terms with only incidental cial interaction in the setting. must have certain additional proper- ties presented in the next series of propositions. The indirect impact of physical development. EnvironIn order to examine the joint efmental influences in educative proc. the learner. the optimal structure of such systems remain empirical ques- ventional research model anteced- ent and consequent conditions are conceptualized in terms of sepa- restrictive two-person system at the level of the individual becomes an analogous person-in-single-context model at the level of settings. we are in a the home.) and the potential higher-order effects as- into account temporal and spatial Barker & Schoggen. and their col. in the classroom. in keeping with the classic two-element re- Examples of the application of this principle in concrete research design are cited in both preceding and succeeding sections. the peer group and the school. As a result. However. time. Not only does it necessarily activities that define a setting at a particular point in its developintroduce a comparative perspecment.73. with consesystem.). now at the rate variables that are treated as variations in the structure or level of settings. spelling each other off. now across domains. The work of Barker. dyads. As one moves from a dyad to an N+2 system. As a result. Among the eleresearch model. In our topological the pattern of activities and interacschema of the ecological field. the Are such complex phenomena worth investigating? Have we not come to the point of diminishing returns in examining details of negligible significance for learning and de- velopment? Paradoxically. search model. Ecological Schoggen. may change to be cited in support of subsequent environment. more importantly. Wright. All of the foregoing examples. and tions.

peer-oriented youngsters described their parents as being less affectionate and less firm in discipline. and.. Reciprocity Between Settings Although no data are presently available documenting the effects on the child of reciprocal influences found that the teenagers' descrip- tions and evaluations of the behav- pact of a two-way process taking place between home and school. again for United States. but probably not wholly hy. one setting in the research design is within every culture including the circumstances. The next proposition represents an extension of Proposition 9 beyond a single setting. Proposition 13. The work in this area has recently been reviewed by Bronfenbrenner (1976). Specifically. the teaching re- regarding the possibility of such variation seriously increases the risk of a Type I error-that is.that in a particular cross-cultural on a sufficient scale to permit relialikely phenomenon. Since such reciprociAdherence to this requirement can ty between settings is likely to be a have sobering consequences. sources made available to the tutors not in fact exist. The design of an experiment involving more than one setting must take into account the possibility of reciprocal interactions between settings as systems. If the results of an ecological experiment are to be generalized to other settings of the same type. process. 1971) that older children teaching younger children themselves gain in learning skills. all of the chil-the means of an individual investichild rearing practices were obdren in each society were selected gator. we found significant ferences between the two groups heuristic purposes. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. cultures but simply between the The probable origins of this phe. dis- Under these circumstances. and.foundly influence the educative and peer group in the socializationhavior.73. in two companion reaccomplished by conforming to the searches. any significant difnevertheless desirable. The phenomenon of reciprocity between settings was first "brought home" in almost literal fashion to the pres- ent investigator a decade ago in connection with an ongoing program of cross-cultural research on patterns of child rearing.jstor.ance among individuals but among son's classmates in school. In a study of 41 naturally-demonstrate that cultural differThe foregoing line of argument should not be interpreted to imply occurring adolescent friendship ences overrode the variation among classrooms within cultures (with the that experiments limited to a single groups in New York City. Conclassrooms. say. we ample. the error term employed for cally with characteristics and activi. Taken together. to the most recent in Israel (Devereux et al. Olds (1976)5 in a compretake note of it in the next proposi. This requirement can be versely. can illuminate nomenon have been traced in a docgroup climate. of analyzing interactions between settings. In statistical ior of their parents varied systemati. more importantly. The design of an ecological experiment involving the same person in more than one setting should take into account the possible subsystems. Olds' results. Let us supposemethodological issue. it would be necessary to process. 1974). there is evidence on the im- classrooms also drawn from differ- Replication at the Level of Settings The finding of significant differ- ences from one classroom or peer group to the next has important methodological as well as substantive implications.classrooms (as a function of teacher. etc. Siman October 1976 This content downloaded from 164. between the family and the day care center.2 on Fri. most 11 .224.testing the main effect for culture ties of the peer group. their findings reveal a reciprocal re- lation between family and peer Proposition 15. This proposition illuminates the shortcomings of existing research bearing on the next transition commonly experienced by young children in Western society: that from the home to the day care center or preschool. of cooperative behaviorsble generalization is usually beyond among ten-year-olds. example. where more than one setting occurs. and his thorough analysis of earlier work. to unwarranted conclusions but. & Riessman. To determine relationships existing both within toral dissertation by Siman (1973)whether two societies actually dif. drawn pri. treme. strongly suggest that the reported success was a function of rather specific situations and circumstances related to a high frequency and length of tutoring sessions. group settings. provided in his design for replication at the level of schools. 1962).would have to be based not on varimarily from among the young per. we ent schools as well).Replication of settings as a pothetical. Such replication differences in parental behavior might reflect variation not between can not only alert the investigator from one classroom to the next. a claiming a difference when one does close match between the learning pitfall is best revealed by an ex-he is teaching the younger child. Under these in their school classrooms. Condry and Siman (1974. and associated higher-order effects. In each of our com- parative studies from the first conducted in West Germany (Devereux et al.hensive experiment on cross-age tion: tutoring.the joint impact of two or more settings or their elements. The inclusion of more than tained from reports by sixth-graders from one classroom. Replication observed the same seemingly un. he found no reliable evidence for the widely publicized claim (Gartner. This is the requirement. Kohler. Our data on study.terms. This is the requirement of replication at the level of settings. that could exist across settings.and between settings that may proon the interaction between familyfered in children's cooperative be. The nature of this needs of the tutor and the skills that by the school.).. condition set forth in the following 1976) report that the involvement of proposition. For exgeneral ecological phenomenon. Proposition 14. children in informal peer groups was less a function of positive attraction than of perceived inattention and indifference in the home. several examples of each type of setting must be in- cluded in the research design.

having relatives or friends move in (and out again). ment agencies.essentially heuristic: to alert reof nature with a . before- 12 ER This content downloaded from 164. remarriage. vacations. their place and nificance.cial networks. Gar- barino (1976). changing jobs. getting a new teacher. law enforcement practices. But in carrying the learners spend their time. shopping facilities.tional principles.sonal but for their scientific sighealth and welfare services. the relations between purpose in our theoretical schema isin effect. there is the danger. it is necessary to heed extended family. a ready-made experiment school and community. specified in our prior propositions.which there are no exceptionscompassing or impinging upon these mediate situation.. means of communication. divorce. We call attenexamples include the nature and re. Such exo-sysexo-systems represent sources of Systems-properties of developtems are both formal and informal: higher-order effects from more re-mental transitions. the working mother. the fragmentation of the periments. the process of making human beings human. emigrating. both formal and informal.coming sick. in studies as a variable rather than in systems- lacking replication at the level of terms as stipulated by Proposition 11. urban renewal. the delegation of child care to specialists and others outside the home. the properties of the reorder interaction specific to the parsearch model for investigating rela- from preschool to school.g. This section takes us beyond the tings and systems beyond the im. In other words. consolidated schools. death. Proposition 16. Research on the ecology of education requires experiments that go beyond the im- mediate setting containing the learner to the examination of larger contexts. here in the third ple. social class is usually treated tions. going to the hospital. or to The Exo-system: Learning the only difference is that these return to the more universal-beSettings in Context stipulations are now applied to set. the baby returns home from the hospital. We have been able to discover only a few correlational findings and fragmentary facts. given our heuristic *aims. On the contrary. ment in a corollary. As already indicated. are precisely those that have been travel. and hence are not gen. the ficiently important to warrant statebreakdown of social networks. marriage. In sum. settings. namely. returning to immediate settings containing the mediate situation containing the work. tion to this varied array of events quirements of the parents' work. To mention a few: a mother is presented with her newborn infant for the first time. schools. it should be explicitly acentific exploration . When replication of settings is minimal or completely precluded because of lim- ited resources: 1' The selection of the specific example(s) within a setting category (e. neighborhoods) should involve careful consideration of the range of possible choices in order to maximize what can be learned from the particular cases chosen.example. for out such ecologically delimited ex. and offer three instances: Giovannoni and Billingsley (1970). to date. and social life.mote regions of the environment. exo-sys-in everyday life not for their percharacteristics of the neighborhood. immediate settings.residential and business areas. patterns of recreation of view of science and of economics. classrooms. the child is enrolled in a day care center. finding one's first job. but they fail to meet a other situations along the same line: basic requirement of our ecological the arrival of a sibling. circle of our ecological model are Developmental Transitions as 2) In the interpretation of findwhole subcontinents waiting for sciings. or promoted to the next grade in school. Such studies are certainly Ecological Experiments A number of such changes have served as the focus of investigation in the researches we have already cited. there have been very sults may be specific to features few investigations of exo-system efof the particular examples employed. a de- liberate effort should be made to identify specific characteristics of the examples employed and take them into account in the inter- pretation of results. both from the point disappearance of neighborhoods. this is probably the most efficient way to proceed. It is not difficult to think of relevant. informal so. examples that meet the foregoing criteria are difficult to find.73. changing careers.2 on Fri. "dropping out". transportation systems. commuting. From this point of view. buying one's first family ticular examples of the setting intions at the level of the exo-system TV set. or the existence and character of an explicit national policy on children and families. becoming pregnant. cluded in the sample. going to camp. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. For each one constitutes. It is this heuristic function that is embodied in our next proposition. eralizable to other settings of the One might challenge this assertion same kind until the findings areon the grounds that studies of social cross validated in another sam- searchers to aspects of the larger en- vironment that may be critical for class differences provide a massive body of information about the impact of the larger environment on learning. that affect events within the immediate setting. Scarr-Salapatek and Williams (1973). graduations. losing ajob. moving. govern.224. or home. growth of singleparent families. and a host of other There is no advantage in replicating ecological circumstances and events that determine with whom and how a mistake that can be recognized from a single trial. in educational re- In the absence of such precausearch. and-the final experience to learner to the level of structures enlearner and have impact on that im. of treating as a main effect a finding that is actually a higherIn fact. the separation of two methodological precautions suf. the abolition of the apprentice system.waiting beknowledged that the observed recause. Corollary 15a. car. zoning ordinances.getting well again.fects on learning processes. For the same reason. the setting are not worth doing. the move model.jstor. geographic and social mobility. tems do not generate any new func.

in the United States. school. Instead of scientist at the Academy of Pedtreating the transitions in the con. We had been our ecological model. they are ecologearly years. student to worker. Unlike of the elements of the setting.after design in which each subject a brave beginning. we take cognizance of one more broadly in terms of our Nor theoretical framework. And even when as changes in ecological systems every transition involves more than this aim has been pursued. births. these developmental transispective in which development is brought to the last level of our ections are sufficiently diverse toinstigated inand paced primarily byological structure-the ideological volve every one of the settings events and within the organism-that and institutional macro-system.g. these investigators sumptions underlying educational research in the Soviet Union and on the properties of the individual introduced unorthodox innovations with little reference to context has which invite equally radical trans. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. They may offer even The foreshortened perspective was father mastering a new job) becomes exo-system for another (e. dropping out of 13 . day care). In summing formation of the educational tranup his views. in our society. Besystems-properties set forth inis. and then becomes vir. the to their exploitation as experiments conventional research in education. N.agogical Sciences. and deaths. the pattern light on the learning process as a learner. and a new job in another ively on one class of persons des- Proposition 19. within both developmental and educational psychology. the inquiry can shed little forms throughout the life of the a child enters day care. since they all take place abounds with knowledge about the tal transitions as contexts for ecin real-life settings.porate a life-span perspective if it is to do justice to the phenomena in the classroom.their predecessors. Leontiev of the the child in the classroom).2 on Fri. have focused almost exclusserves as his own control. I was an exchange tions provide a structure for conceptualizing the dimension of time in resent cases in point. these activity. Given a perculture. Developmental transitions invite not only naturtown affects home. A fruitful context pupil at school.73. di. More- family. for example. (wife to mother. Also. until the mainly to theory and method. child at home to there is once again a spurt of sciProposition 17. greater promise as contexts for con. Salapatek and Williams (1973) rep. The magnitude of the microDevelopmental experiments in tion is provided by the developsystem expands and contracts with the ecology of education. To be decade ago. since a develop.investigations have seldom been of the learner's maturation or of mental change in the state and planned and conducted for the exevents in the life cycle of others status of one member of the sys.jects of scientific study. a didevelopmental experience. Developmental also across setting boundaries. which spoke entail changes over time in role tually silent for decades. peer group. grows less informative ological research by stating three ically valid by definition. when expand upon scope and substance. In terms through middle childhood and additional propositions.and higher-order ef. and often place as well organism begins to decline.first brought to my attention by trived experiments. second. At the time.The Macro-system: Experiments sponsible for the learner's educa-ising terrain for ecological research on Institutions and Ideolgies in education.. for ecological research in educaetc. school has reverberations in the noted.) remains an but in the larger world of those re-unexplored and scientifically prom. Finally. entific activity. etc. developmental transi.plicit purpose of assessing the imresponsible for his or her care and education. But here once again we are over. graduations. Such transitions tem invariably alters the relations pact of the experience upon probetween the others. in various order systems. when a result. of nature.. the rerather than solely within indivione setting. and ignated as the experimental subalistic but also contrived experievery other learning environment. 1972) and of Scarr. they adolescence.a number of events in the life cycle occur in the life of the learner. mental transitions that typically marriages.g. The researches Professor A.jstor.g. we by biological change-the outsixteen propositions thus far. To state the case To formulate our final proposiis the scientific potential of tion. in most transitions are not limited to the involving interactions within higherstudies of home vs. our fore entering this new domain. these interactive prosearch design has typically been duals.. ecology of education must incorvorce can alter the child's behavior whether cross-sectional or longitu. sitions often have their origin nottems of which he is a part (e. a sad ending. Reciprocal pro.of Klaus (1970. Professor Leontiev ofgenerated a curiously broken trajectory of theory and research that has sitions that have become regardedfered the following provocative October 1976 This content downloaded from traditional and necessary in our and an empty middle. But such in role and setting as a function fects are the rule. studies to date. jects. Since almost are to be conceived and analyzed cesses of learning. vorces.University of Moscow. The impact of a developmenments-those that introduce inThe last example calls attention tal transition not merely on the novations in the established seto the fact that developmental tran-learner but on the enduring sysquence and structure of successive settings and events. Hence the experimental of family activities changes. thus dinal (as.). To come is a segmented science that sum up our analysis of developmenbegin with. The almost ventional course regarded as normal discussing differences in the asexclusive focus. what is microdevelopmental transitions limited more delimiting characteristic of system for one learner (e. As early years but recur. cesses occur not only within but cross-sectional rather than longituProposition 18. For example. in the immediate learning setting. as already within its purview. tion and care.224.discussed above have been the obThese transitions include changes cesses.

. G. Stanford. 14 ER This content downloaded from 164. etc. ideologies and structures by re"transforming experiments" in the real world are equally rare in Amer. Brim and Heidi Sigal. rural-urban differences. socialization Bass. F. motor and perceptual development With these unorthodox thoughts. H. "you can't change human if the broader perspective." This precept underlies our ily. 3Lamb's research has been supported by a grant from the FCD program on the Ecology of Human Development. V. Rus. 2Cochran's research has been supported by a grant from the FCD program on the Ecology of Human Development. Soviet psycholtion of socialization processes and ogists often speak of what they call ideologies-that pervade major segoutcomes ( a whole. As Leontions between systems previously ment." cut off from each other. and providing interconnecican educational research.g. ecological systems in ways that depart from existing institutional For rather different reasons. ethnic difciety. it is quite another Notes have indeed been ingenious in de. nature of these structures. R."the we home is separated from the came to be what he is. 1964. systematic data yield place ical experiments in education. R. little of this reate the status quo.S. 1970). 1954. Barker." By this term they mean an shift for an ecological research modconstructing and strengthening inexperiment that radically restruc. we in the say. two-parent homes. Hence experiments that uniment. Proshansky et al.judgment: "It seems to me that with new social or educational American researchers are constant- they tend to be systems "in abscis- sion. The implications of this dertake to reverse the process by iment. ceptible to significant and novel pressed with a distinctive feature 5Olds' research was supported by a transformation. I first perceived this characferences. and its children. to the extent that we include ecological contexts 20 deserves special comment. 23 Dec 2016 23:27:36 UTC All use subject to http://about. the work place. the is not confined to settings and strucclassroom.defining goals. and all of these settings lack connections with the world of introduce experimental changes IAn abbreviated version of a paper prethat represent a restructuring of vising clever experiments that pared for presentation as the AERA Award evoked new patterns of response established institutional forms and Address at the 1976 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Associaprimarily in the sphere of psycho. the control group dising the nature and scope of ecologwork carried out by the author as a Belding Fellow of the Foundation for Child Developappears. & Gump. G. were dustrialized nations. producing a trasts to be employed in our expersystems offer promise both for scinew configuration that activates iments. Thus we study so. 1976. and their associated complished by a parallel deteriorain its implications. he is. and activities. indeed. roles. In the search has focused on learning processes and even less on the indirect effects of the in our research. are striving to discover setting at a time-the home. Calif. 1973. tiev implied.values. eternally fixed and unalterable. we select and treat course of two decades of cross-culphysical environment through its impact on tural research on child rearing and them as sociological givens rather those who deal with the learner rather than than as evolving social systems sus. namely. Ca. April 19-23. perhaps. in particular Orville G. cial class differences." the "transforming exper.vs. it is revolutionary ity to the level of macro-systemsthe institutions. tion. by violent revolu.teristic in terms of our marked segReferences or.S. It is one thing to compare ientific understanding and for sopreviously unrealized behavioral the effects on education of systems cial policy. ments of the society or the culture the "preobrazuyuschchi eksper1975). children regation by age (Bronfenbrenner.more dissociated from each other. in the United States are Barker.of socialization in American sogrant from the FCD program on the Ecology of Human . nathe peer group from the famture. and their pared to those in other modern Barker. but The Transforming Experiment Leontiev's statement is reminis- tures on the local scene. ex. but how he can become whattional policy. Peterson. but have since seen it in small school. Thus forms as contexts for realizing ly seeking to explain how the childhuman potential. the school from the neighbornot how the child came to be what national stance on social and educahood.: Row..2 on Fri. 1976) has led ventures into social reality perpetuto a proliferation of studies on the impact of The final phrase of Proposition physical factors on behavior. 1970.. most of our scientificisolated from each other. We have tures has been increasing rapidly structures of a particular communit goes much farther. comversity Press. "After all. 4Although the rapid growth in recent years in environmental psychology (e. 1969). Qualities of community life. We are loath to experiment In terms of Lewinian theory (1936). a from one. to anecdotal accounts. at the next level down. Big school. and the Proposition 20. G.el concern the nature of the conterconnections between ecological tures the environment. in in recent decades and has been acLeontiev's view. P.. San Francisco. Midwest cept. 1974c.tive restructuring of prevailing ses and outcomes. he not yet the author has been imon the learner himself.R. & Schoggen.R." Similarly. San Francisco: Josseydevelopmental consequences. potentialties of the subject. small families . Moos. P. But once we arrive at the last and most dethe December 1976 Teachers College Record. Ill.jstor. & Wright. Appreciation is expressed to the Foundation and its staff.224. Soviet research moves out of the manding of our propositions definThe ideas set forth in this paper grow out of laboratory.73. The full text of the paper will be published in (Cole & Maltzman. Evanston. tion.: Stanford Unilarge vs. and much of our educational science as well. This dissociation of social strucindeed moved from the mundane cent of Dearborn's injunction.or system elements already present sian developmental psychologists within the culture. Research on the "transforming experiment" degenecology of education requires exerates into a dutiful demonstration periments involving the innovaof ideologically prescribed proces. our research has charIt is obvious that such discourse acteristically been confined to one U.

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