Human thoughts, meanings, interpretations, and understandings are basically formulated and negotiated through activity that is influenced by environmental conditions. Understanding and explaining the ways in which environmental conditions influence humans engaged in individual and collective activity within and among institutions is a major problem of educational theoreticians, researchers, and practitioners. A common perception of environment is that humans act on it rather than interact with it. However, active humans and active environments act on each other. Context is a unit of analysis that is often used to account for how environmental conditions shape human activity.


Context is derived from the Latin contexere, “to join together,” and texere, “to weave.” Context has multiple meanings (e.g., circumstances, settings, activities, situations, and events).

A context is constituted of the ...

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