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Theoretical Framework

Theoretical Framework

Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory is one of the most accepted explanations regarding the influence of social environments on human development. This theory argues that the environment you grow up in affects every facet of your life. Social factors determine your way of thinking, the emotions you feel, and your likes and dislikes.

If you change your environment, you’ll change. If you move to another country with a different culture, your identity will certainly change. The same can happen if your social role within one of the five systems changes.

The five systems include:

  • Microsystem: Made up of the groups that have direct contact with the        
  • Mesosystem: The relationships between the groups from the first system.
  • Exosystem: Factors that affect an individual’s life but, the elements of this system don’t have a direct relationship with the individual.
  • Macrosystem: Contains those cultural elements that affect the individual and everyone around them.
  • Chronosystem: The stage of life that the individual is in regarding the situations they’re going through.
Renn, K. A., & Arnold, K. D. (2003). Reconceptualizing Research on College Student Peer Culture. The
Journal of Higher Education, 74(3), 261–293.
What is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory? (2019, May 3). Retrieved August 6, 2019,


Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory Model


SCU’s Application of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory Model

Through OML's values (Celebrate, Contemplate, and Commit) we look at each individual student and how their environment impacts them.  OML’s programs and services are intended to help students understand themselves and others around them on campus. OML considers the various aspects of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory as we discern what may be most helpful for SCU students and the SCU community. Specifically we examine the following:

  1. How do immediate relationships affect the individual student (microsystem)?
  2. What is the relationship and impact between a student’s immediate relationships and other external relationships that may have an effect on the student (mesosystem)?
  3. How do organizations/processes external to the student influence their decisions and direction (exosystem)?
  4. How does a student’s overarching values and beliefs leverage their decision making process (macrosystem)?
  5. What effect does a student’s year in school have on their growth and understanding of themselves and others around them (chronosystem)?


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