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Studying Environmental Effects on Motor Development. C omparatively, little research has addressed one of the primary determinants of MD Environment . Intent :. to highlight the role of the environment in the study of MD describe a contemporary model for research

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c omparatively little research has addressed one of the primary determinants of md environment

Comparatively, little research has addressed one of the primary determinants of MD Environment



to highlight the role of the environment in the study of MD

describe a contemporary model for research

consider examples of (for) research…

developmental systems perspective
Developmental Systems Perspective

Human Development is the product of changingrelations between the developing person and his or her changingmulti-level environmental contexts

understanding how biological levels dynamically interact with levels of contexts (Contextualism)

stresses the interrelation of all levels

(Lerner, 2002)

what is motor development
What is Motor Development?

Study of changein motor behavior [and underlying processes] as influenced by biological and environmental factors

environmental contexts

biological systems


The first assumption of the dynamic approach is that developing organisms are complex (self-organizing) systems ……the coherence is generated solely in the relationships between the organic components and the constraints and opportunities of the environment.

Smith & Thelen (2003) Trends in Cognitive Sciences


Environmental Effects

An optimal level of development occurs only with a stimulating

environmentand strong contextual support

The National Academies(January, 2000)

“ Research indicates that early relationships are especially

critical, and thatcultural values and practicesprovide the

context for these bonds.”

newell s constraints model
Newell’s Constraints Model
  • (specific)

(setting, sociocultural)


Gibson’s Ecological Perspective

Infants directly perceive and act on information



in environment


Affordance(Gibson, 1979)

Theory explores the potential relationships between person-environment

Properties of the environment that offer the individual the opportunity to learn or utilize a skill or develop a part of the biological system

Affordances are opportunities that offer the individual potential for action, and consequently to learn and develop a skill or a part of the biological system


Affordances include: toys, materials, apparatus, availability of space, stimulation and nurturing by parents and others Eventsoffer the child opportunities for action. Hirose states, “Affordances are opportunities for action that objects, events, or places in the environment provide for the animal,” (p. 104).



Action depends on(task):

developmental level


present need

cognitive awareness= Ecological Fit

Studies, e.g., Adolph, 1993, 1995, 2007

urie bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner

Ecological Systems Theory

  • The varied systems of the environment and the interrelationships among the systems shape a child's development.
  • Both the environment and biology influence the child's development.
  • The environment affects the child and the child influences the environment.

Bronfenbrenner U. (1979, 1989. 2005)

ecological systems model
Ecological Systems Model
  • the person interacts with ecological contexts as part of a system. That is, the person acts on the context while the context acts on the person. To some extent, all the contexts interact with one another
  • the world of the child (and indeed all of us) consists of five systems of interaction
  • each system depends on the contextual nature of the person’s life and offers an evergrowing diversity of options and sources of growth
systems model
Systems Model
  • Microsystem
  • Mesosystem
  • Exosystem
  • Macrosystem
  • Chronosystem

Bronfenbrenner U. (1979, 1989. 2005)







increasing focus on the child



microsystem-- the most immediate and earliest influences is the family, along with local neighborhood or

community institutions such as the school, religious institutions and peer groups as well as the specific culture

with which the family identifies.

macrosystem-- society and global influence

Huitt (2003)



  • Swick & Williams, 2006, use of model
  • Harney, 2007, use of model
  • Liles & Juhnke, 2008,adolesc. diabetes
    • (Process-Person-Context-Time Model)
  • Yu & Stiffman, 2007, alcohol abuse
  • (family, social, cultural)
  • Garcia & Saewyc, 2007, mental health
    • (cultural, community services)
  • Schwebel & Brezausek, 2007, pediatric injury
  • (family [home], and child care environment)

23 dissertations in 2007 (ProQuest)


Movement Science

Salmon & Timperio, 2007, Med Sport Sci, physical activity(neighborhood social and physical environment)Gilmer et al., 2003, J Pediatric Nurs, physical activity(peers, family, & community)

Bronfenbrenner’s model provides a comprehensive and dynamic conceptual framework for understanding human development (Bengoechea, Quest, 2002)

process person context time ppct ecological model
Process-Person-Context-Time (PPCT) ecological model

Bronfenbrenner, 2005

See excellent review by Krebs, Int. J. Sport Psychol., 2009



Process: fused and dynamic relation of the person and context

Person: biological, cognitive, and emotional characteristics

Context: nested levels or systems of the ecology

Time: multiple dimensions of temporality


(PPCT) example A

Environmental influence on physical activity /

fundamental motor skills

Person(fitness, FMS characteristics)

Process (play / sport, physical education, recess - time / freq)

Context(SES, family [father, mother…], community [facilities, access, safety, crime, urban design])

Time(K > 2, childhood > adolescence)


(PPCT) example B

The relation between early motor development

and early cognitive ability

Person(birth status, fine- and gross motor ability, cognitive..)

Process (play time / type, physical education, sport)

Context(SES, family [father, mother…{education, alcohol, pa level…],home environ.,community [facilities, access, urban design])

Time(early childhood > school age years)

md in context

MD in context








Time 1TIMETime 2




Affordances in the Home Environment for Motor Development (AHEMD)

A unique observational research instrument to assess the quality and quantity of motor development affordances in the home for children 3- to 42 months, and a new infant scale (AHEMD-IS) for ages

3- to 18 mo.

Rodrigues et al., 2005, 2008)