In this article, the authors discuss the use of ecological concepts (ecology, boundary, niche) in educational research to understand if and how these concepts from one field of science (ecology) can bring a new understanding to another field of science (education). We have conducted a systematic search in the ERIC database to identify articles where key concepts from ecology, such as ecosystem, boundaries and niche, are used in educational research. An algorithm inspired by Rodger’s (2000) contextual model of concept analysis was used to examine how the concepts contribute to explore, explain or understand an educational system or an educational process. We find that the use of ecology-oriented concepts is related to a circular rather than a linear causality between actors and environment and between thoughts and actions. Thus, an ecological educational approach is characterised by wholeness, and emphasizes context as well as the complex interconnected mechanisms in educational processes.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Education, other