Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Nature Nurtures Nature: Measuring the Biophilic Design Elements in Childcare Centers as Related to the Development Outcomes of Children 34 to 38 Months of Age
by Cerezo Caballero, Adrian, Ph.D., Yale University, 2013, 203; 3578326
Abstract (Summary)

Advances of the modern world have greatly decreased child mortality and increased human longevity, but at the same time they have created a disconnection between humans and non-human nature. Mounting evidence shows links between this disconnection and cognitive, physical and social concerns in young children. While the field of Early Childhood Development (ECD) has addressed many of the key issues in promoting early childhood development, the key issue of nature in development has been given very limited attention.

This study had the goal of developing the first instrument to measure the natural qualities of the spaces young children inhabit. The conceptual framework chosen for the development of the instrument was that of the biophilia hypothesis and the applied principles of biophilic design. The resulting instrument, the Biophilic Design Feature Scale (BDFS) is specifically focused on the interior spaces of childcare centers that serve children 34 to 38 months of age.

In order to test the instrument a mixed-methods observational study was designed that deployed the BDFS in the context of childcare centers in a small New England city. The BDFS scores were correlated to existing information about child outcomes in the physical, cognitive, social, creative, and health domains. This outcomes data was extracted from two existing instruments commonly used in childcare centers of Connecticut. The BDFS results were triangulated with several sources of qualitative information to add context nuance to the analysis.

The study demonstrated that the BDFS is a reliable, effective tool to measure the biophilic features of childcare centers. The process of testing the BDFS instrument also yielded a wealth of information regarding the biophilic qualities of childcare centers in the study site, and how these qualities are related to developmental outcomes. A significant correlation was found between the total BDFS score and the outcome domain of creativity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dove, Michael R.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental Studies, Developmental psychology, Architecture
Keywords: Biophilia, Children and nature, Dynamic complex systems, Early childhood development, Educational assessment, Social ecology
Publication Number: 3578326
ISBN: 978-1-303-71265-4
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