SAGE Journal Articles

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Ecological Systems Theory

Penhollow, T. M., & Rhoads, K. E. (2013). Preventing obesity and promoting fitness: An ecological perspective. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8, 21-24.


Childhood obesity is a growing concern across the globe. The authors suggest that although an individual approach to treating this problem has been successful, the factors underlying this epidemic are multifaceted and therefore require we begin to think about the problem using a broader perspective. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory is used to describe how researchers can begin treating the problem at the mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem levels.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the cultural or historical changes that may have led to such a dramatic increase in the incidence of childhood obesity over the last three decades?
  2. Explain which of Bronfenbrenner’s four levels would provide the greatest short-term success in treating childhood obesity? Would this also provide the greatest long-term success?
  3. What other developmental problems might benefit from this broader way of thinking?

Piaget and Teacher Education

Openshaw, K., & Stendler, C. E. (1965). Aspects of Piaget’s theory that have implications for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 16, 329-335.


The goal of this article is to explain why Jean Piaget’s theories of child development should be applied by teachers to the classroom. Although Piaget himself was not necessarily interested in the application of his theories, they have had a profound effect on pedagogy. The authors focus on three of Piaget’s ideas: intelligence, logical thought, and the development of logical thinking.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Young children often have a difficult time understanding that whales are mammals rather than fish because they live in the ocean and swim like fish do. Using the ideas of assimilation and accommodation, how might a teacher develop an activity to help students with this concept?
  2. In order for children to ‘pass’ the conservation tasks developed by Piaget, they must indicate the two objects still contain the same amount of liquid or mass. However, they must also be able to explain why they believe this. What role do you think language plays in children’s ability to pass these conversation tasks? Is it possible they know the right answer, but don’t yet have the language skills necessary to explain this?
  3. Piaget’s theories have often been criticized because of the emphasis on the stages of development – children must pass through one stage in order to move on to the next. Why might this be problematic for teachers in a classroom with 20-30 students, perhaps all at different stages of cognitive development?