Home environment classification system: A model for assessing the home environments of developing children

Robert H. Bradley, Bettye M. Caldwell, Stephen L. Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A two-tiered system for classifying inputs from the environment is presented. For the first (or outer) tier, each environmental element is categorized along three structural dimensions: 1) the function which the element serves in behalf of development (stimulation, structure, sustenance, surveillance, support); 2) the modality through which the element is received (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, olfactory); and 3) the source from which the element comes (person, object, event, setting). For the second (or inner) tier, items are rated along three dynamic dimensions: 1) reactivity, 2) complexity, and 3) intensity. The classification system is presented as a heuristic approach to organizing information on environment/development relationships. It allows for a multidimensional description of any type of input to persons in such a way as to incorporate most of the ways of describing environments previously presented in the literature on human development. The advantage of the proposed classification system would seem twofold: 1) It should permit classification of environmental elements at various levels of abstraction within the same system of classification; and 2) it should promote integration of research information from studies with disparate goals and make easier the identification of significant gaps in the research on environment/development relationships. The most obvious practical advantage of the system would seem to be its ability to describe children's environments in great detail, leading to a fuller understanding of how particular environmental elements are likely to influence behavior and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-265
Number of pages29
JournalEarly education and development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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