Exploring Context

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Exploring Context

Environmental analysis of teaching/facillitation context (Adaptation of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems)

Context defined

  • the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : environment, setting[1]
  • Background, environment, framework, setting, or situation surrounding an event or occurrence.[2]

Reviewing your context

Context can be viewed from multiple perspectives including:

  • the perspective of the learner, considering all the factors that influence and impact on learners in specific courses, programmes or environments
  • the perspective of the teacher/facilitator

As a teacher/facilitator it is helpful to review your own context from time to time to thus enable you to create the best possible context for learning for the learners you work with.

There are many ways in which you can examine the context within which you teach. Reviewing your context can be referred to an environmental analysis (a review of the environment within which you work).

Systems Approach

One way to explore the wider work context is using a systems approach that explores influencing factors in expanding concentric circles. This is based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory.

There is often a tendency to focus on immediate surroundings without thinking about some of the wider factors that impact on our contexts. Here are some suggestions of factors that can impact on the wider environments.

Organisational Environment National Environment Global issues
  • Mission, charter, profile
  • strategic direction, organisation philosophy
  • organisational policies
  • employment requirements / conditions
  • Government policy
  • Tertiary Education Strategy
  • TEC - Tertiary Education Commission
  • Industry or Professional Body standards and requirements
  • Global issues
  • Trends in adult education
  • e-learning, use of social media and globalisation

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Develop your own environmental analysis by using the diagram on this page as a model to create your own systems diagram adding the factors at each level that impact on your teaching/facilitation context.

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  • How aware are you of the wider factors that influence your practice?
  • What factors do you need to find out more about?


  1. Merriam-Webster. (2013). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/context
  2. WebFinance. (2013). Business Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/context.html