Our Program Philosophy and Education Model

The Adelphi University master’s degree program in school psychology philosophical and educational models of training are developed within an ecological framework—that is, research and teaching are guided by advancing social justice for all children through science, practice and policy.

The ecological model, as articulated by American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, PhD, suggests a structure for the training of practitioner-scientists who understand and practice psychology in a sociocultural context. The ecological model allows for the conceptualization of relationships among various aspects of the individual (for instance, biological, cultural and relational), in numerous forms of social organizations (such as families, schools, neighborhoods, communities and vocational settings), as well as through multiple structural influences (for example, socioeconomic factors, social policy and reward systems).

Traditionally, the discipline and practice of psychology have focused more on the individual and internal influences and less on the context and environment of the person. The ecological model takes a multileveled perspective by including the influences of the social context and the environment in relation to the individual. The model also requires consideration of systemic forces operating on individuals and promotes continued evaluation of current constructs and standards for theory, research and practice.

Adelphi’s school psychology master’s degree program prepares school psychologists to think systemically and be aware of the culture and the environment’s profound impact on children’s learning and emotional health.

Our ecological model underscores the influence that the family, school/learning environment, peers, community, and culture have on the developing child, and also the subsequent interaction and influence that these relationships have on children’s lives. The program promotes an understanding of the systemic approach of human and social development, the ecology behind it, and the environment involved. This ecological framework allows faculty to teach fundamental relationships to students so that they might better understand how media, school and government (state and federal policies), or a child’s neighborhood can influence the way children develop.

The ecological model espouses a commitment to evidence-based practice and an infusion of social justice into our curriculum. Dr. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory defines and delineates these environmental systems, with each having an interrelated effect on a child’s development. The interaction between factors in the child’s maturing biology, immediate family/community environment, and the societal landscape, fuels and guides the child’s development. As each system is interrelated, change in one system will have a ripple effect on other systems.

In sum, a child’s development is strongly influenced by biological factors, the immediate environment and the interplay of the larger environment as well. Our program emphasizes evidence-based practices and functional competencies.

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