Title

Occupation and Place: exploring affordances in home environments for infants under two

Start Time

5-10-2012 9:45 AM

End Time

5-10-2012 10:15 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

PURPOSE: From an occupational science perspective, the concept of affordances has been proposed as a revolutionary way of viewing the physical environment in relation to the person-environment relationship (Munier, Teeters-Myers & Pierce, 2008). The concept of affordances considers how individuals develop a perceptual understanding of the world with a focus on the functional use of spaces and objects (Gibson, 1977). It also supports analysis of the physical environment from a transactional perspective (Kytta, 2003). Yet to date, few studies in occupational science have drawn from this concept to guide research on occupation and environment. The purpose of this paper is to present research that applied an affordance approach to the study of infant play in the home physical environment. The aim of the study was to explore and identify ways in which infants develop and learn through engaging with objects and spaces of everyday life in the home.

RESEARCH METHODS: A qualitative ethnographic approach was employed to gather data on five infants, two new-borns and three one-year olds, and their families over twelve months between September 2009 and October 2010. Data was generated through video, interview and observations of the infants engaging in play with typical objects, in their natural home environments. Families were visited monthly to capture change in infant-environment transactions over time. Analysis focused on identifying and describing affordances of the environment as observed through typical play events in the home. Videos were analysed using a micro-analytical approach to study critical events from month to month for each infant.

FINDINGS: Through detailed analysis of infant-environment transactions over time, affordances of objects and spaces were identified A functional typology of space-object use was distinguished that progressed from body space, near space, middle space, home space, to mastery of home space. Affordances were revealed to be developmental and cyclic in nature, and included not only a sociocultural aspect but also an emotional one. Furthermore, infants engaged with their physical environments differently as they developed, thus highlighting the environmental specificity aspect of affordances. The study highlighted an interrelationship between object and space use, thus confirming that both contribute and influence infant play simultaneously and need to be considered conjointly in any analysis of play environments.

Author’s objectives for the discussion period:

Conceptual:

  1. To consider for discussion- where does the physical environment fit with our view of occupation- does it have equal standing in the person-environment relationship or is it viewed as merely being part of the context?
  2. How do we name and conceptualise the objects and spaces used by infants and toddlers- do we need a taxonomy?
  3. To explore and discuss how an affordance approach applies to the study of occupation

Methodology:

  1. To discuss the challenges in researching ‘process’ and transactions in relation to the physical environment
  2. To consider the use of video and photographs in analysing play transactions with non-verbal infants

References

Gibson, J. (1977). The theory of affordances. In R. Shaw & J. Bransford (Eds.), Perceiving, acting and knowing: toward an ecological psychology. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kytta, M. (2003). Children in outdoor contexts: affordances and mobility in the assessment of environmental child friendliness. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Technology, Helsinki.

Munier, V., Teeters Myers, C., & Pierce, D. (2008). Power of object play for infants and toddlers. In L. D. Parham & L. Fazio (Eds.), Play in Occupational Therapy for children (pp. 219-250). London: Mosby-Elsevier. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-032302954-4.10007-8

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Research paper

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Oct 5th, 9:45 AM Oct 5th, 10:15 AM

Occupation and Place: exploring affordances in home environments for infants under two

PURPOSE: From an occupational science perspective, the concept of affordances has been proposed as a revolutionary way of viewing the physical environment in relation to the person-environment relationship (Munier, Teeters-Myers & Pierce, 2008). The concept of affordances considers how individuals develop a perceptual understanding of the world with a focus on the functional use of spaces and objects (Gibson, 1977). It also supports analysis of the physical environment from a transactional perspective (Kytta, 2003). Yet to date, few studies in occupational science have drawn from this concept to guide research on occupation and environment. The purpose of this paper is to present research that applied an affordance approach to the study of infant play in the home physical environment. The aim of the study was to explore and identify ways in which infants develop and learn through engaging with objects and spaces of everyday life in the home.

RESEARCH METHODS: A qualitative ethnographic approach was employed to gather data on five infants, two new-borns and three one-year olds, and their families over twelve months between September 2009 and October 2010. Data was generated through video, interview and observations of the infants engaging in play with typical objects, in their natural home environments. Families were visited monthly to capture change in infant-environment transactions over time. Analysis focused on identifying and describing affordances of the environment as observed through typical play events in the home. Videos were analysed using a micro-analytical approach to study critical events from month to month for each infant.

FINDINGS: Through detailed analysis of infant-environment transactions over time, affordances of objects and spaces were identified A functional typology of space-object use was distinguished that progressed from body space, near space, middle space, home space, to mastery of home space. Affordances were revealed to be developmental and cyclic in nature, and included not only a sociocultural aspect but also an emotional one. Furthermore, infants engaged with their physical environments differently as they developed, thus highlighting the environmental specificity aspect of affordances. The study highlighted an interrelationship between object and space use, thus confirming that both contribute and influence infant play simultaneously and need to be considered conjointly in any analysis of play environments.

Author’s objectives for the discussion period:

Conceptual:

  1. To consider for discussion- where does the physical environment fit with our view of occupation- does it have equal standing in the person-environment relationship or is it viewed as merely being part of the context?
  2. How do we name and conceptualise the objects and spaces used by infants and toddlers- do we need a taxonomy?
  3. To explore and discuss how an affordance approach applies to the study of occupation

Methodology:

  1. To discuss the challenges in researching ‘process’ and transactions in relation to the physical environment
  2. To consider the use of video and photographs in analysing play transactions with non-verbal infants