Qual Quant (2011) 45:739–741
Dancing with structure: research in Ecological Pedagogy
Published online: 5 December 2010
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Ecological Pedagogy is the “Pedagogy of the whole”. It assumes a continuous interaction
between the individual and his or her environment (e.g. Bronfenbrenner (1977)). Tradi-
tionally, Pedagogy has been aimed at separate aspects, such as the school, the family, the
neighbourhood or government policies. By contrast, Ecological Pedagogy is characterised by
an integral approach. The perspectives of children, parents, educators and other stakeholders
are in the middle and are approached by taking into account all their important interrelations.
In this essay, a plea is made for a broad research perspective in Ecological Pedagogy in which
qualitative and quantitative methods are treated by addressing their similarities rather than
1 Investigative attitude
Ecological research implies opening up to the questions that can arise in speciﬁc contexts. This
requires an open, communicative and reﬂective attitude of “continuous self investigation”.
As a researcher, it is important to be aware of one’s principles, questions, and expectations
and be as explicit about them as possible. In other words, one needs to structure them. Doing
so, others get the opportunity to agree or disagree with a certain perspective. In other cases,
it may also be necessary to change one’s own mind sets. Accordingly, doing research can be
seen as a natural, human process of alternating phases of structuring and loosening.
Dr. René Butter is attached to Utrecht University of Applied Sciences as a senior researcher for the Lectorate
“Working with mandated clients”. Also, he is working as research advisor for the Bachelor of (Ecological)
Pedagogy. A Dutch version of this essay appeared in Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek in December 2008.
R. Butter (
Faculty of Society and Law (FMR), Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Heidelberglaan 7,
3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands