Research group Behaviour and Research in Educational Praxis

This research group studied the reciprocity between the behaviour of the teacher and the behaviour of the student. The assumption underlying research in the group was that how this reciprocity takes shape depends on the institutional, cultural and social context. This assumption led to the following areas of special interest in the research programme.

First, the research focused on increasing and utilising the scope of both the teacher and student to act to bring about productive relationships with each other. There was particular emphasis on pupils who place extra demands on the teacher. Second, the research group proceeded from the assumption that not only instrumental but also ethical-moral considerations have a role to play in enlarging and utilising the scope to act. In order to demonstrate how attitudes and theories about behaviour are manifested in reality and how reality is reflected in attitudes and theories, the research focused on behaviour in educational praxis. The term ‘praxis’ refers to both the ethical-moral intentions and the ethical-moral consequences of behaviour: actions in practice and context. Third, the research group aimed to increase teachers' scope for action by letting them search for workable and attainable opportunities in their own practice. They did this by examining their own and their pupils' behaviour. It is also important to give pupils a voice, which explains the focus on pupils as co-researchers in the group's research.

In line with these underlying principles, the research projects had characteristics of participatory action research, in which academic researchers  (members of the research team) collaborated closely with lecturers and students in university programmes and with teachers and pupils in schools. The research group also collaborated with institutions outside schools, such as museums and a library. This enabled teacher-pupil relationships to be studied from a number of different perspectives, in different real life situations, and in relation to institutional, cultural and social contexts. This approach linked the Anglo-Saxon action research tradition with the continental European tradition of pedagogiek, for instance through collaboration in an extensive international network.

The Research Group programme had three research lines

Discontinued research groups

Conversation of traditions research line

  • Pedagogy, Education & Praxis project
  • Education for All project

Teachers’ perspectives research line

  • Teachers' thinking and their interactions with pupils who they consider to have behavioural problems (PhD)
  • Teachers’ educative beliefs when they are interpreting their interactions with pupils (PhD)
  • Repertory interview as a training method for student teachers    

Pupils’ perspectives research line

  • Pupils as co-researchers 
  • Pupil-teacher relationships and the pupil as co-researcher in and outside school (PhD)

Conversation of traditions

Discontinued research groups

Two projects took place in the Conversations of Traditions research line: the Pedagogy, Education & Praxis (PEP) project and the Education for All project. 

Pedagogy, Education & Praxis (PEP), of which Petra Ponte was one of the initiators and coordinators, is defined as:

'a cross-institutional, collaborative research programme which brings together researchers from Charles Sturt University (Australia), Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Göteborg (Sweden), Åbo Akademi University (Finland), University of Tromsø (Norway), and Sheffield (United Kingdom), who are investigating the nature and condition of praxis and pedagogy in education and how it may be developed in different national contexts and various educational settings as well as in different intellectual traditions.'

Education for All project
The Education for All project was one of the initiatives within the PEP project. A number of international studies were carried out under the umbrella of this project by Petra Ponte, Nicolien Montesano Montessori and a large number of researchers in Australia, Canada, Finland and Sweden. The Dutch research in the context of this collaborative partnership focused on inclusion and social justice in mainstream schools.

Pupils' perspective

Pupils as co-researchers
The student perspective was addressed in the Pupils as co-researchers project, led by Ben Smit, in collaboration with Gijs Verbeek and Renny Beers. Action research teams (made up of pupils, their teacher and a member of the education staff of a museum or a library) investigated how they wanted and were able to learn in an out-of-school learning context.

Pedagogische relationships and pupils as co-researchers
The Pupils as co-researchers project served as the research domain for Leon Plomp's PhD research. He focus on the effects of pupil participation as co-researchers and the pedagogische relationship between teacher and pupils. Leon Plomp is, co-financed by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, pursuing her doctorate at the University of Göteborg, Sweden. His PhD supervisor is Professor Karin Rönnerman, the co-supervisor is Professor Petra Ponte.

Teachers' perspective

Teachers' thinking and their interactions with pupils
Hanne Touw is focusing on teachers' thinking and their interactions with pupils who are considered to have behavioural problems. Hanne has yet to finish her PhD. She developed one of the instruments she used for this research herself: her ‘Professional in the mirror' instrument. Hanne Touw is, financed by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, pursuing her doctorate at Utrecht University. Professor Theo Wubbels is her PhD supervisor, Dr. Pauline Meijer is co-supervisor. 

Interpretations of teacher-pupil interactions
Carlos van Kan's soon to be completed PhD research addressed the question of what educative interpretations teachers give to their daily interactions with their pupils in class. 'Repertory interviews' were used to answer this question. Carlos van Kan is pursuing his doctorate at Leiden University; his PhD supervisor is Professor Nico Verloop and his co-supervisor is Professor Petra Ponte.

Pedagogische orientations
In the third project in this research line, Carlos van Kan and Joke Alink investigated how ‘repertory interviews’ could be used in teacher education courses. The aim of this research was to translate the repertory interview – developed by Carlos van Kan – into a strategy that teachers could use to investigate their educative orientations.

Most important publications


  • Groundwater-Smith, S., Mitchell, J., Mockler, N., Ponte, P. & Rönnerman, K. (2012). Facilitating Practitioner Research: Developing transformational partnerships London: Routledge.
  • Ponte, P. (2012). Onderwijs en onderzoek van eigen makelij. Onderzoek met en door leraren. Den Haag: Boom Lemma. 



  • . Den Haag: Boom LemmaRechtvaardig onderwijs. Slotakkoord lectoraat Petra Ponte ‘Gedrag en onderzoek in de educatieve praxis’Verbeek, G. & Smit, B.H.J. (2012). .

PEP project

  • Ax, J., & Ponte, P. (Eds.) (2008). Critiquing Praxis: Conceptual and empirical trends in the teaching profession. Rotterdam: Sense. (With reflection chapters by Stephen Kemmis & Tracey Smith and by Karin Rönnerman, Eli Moksnes Furu & Petri Salo).
  • Kemmis, S., & Smith, T. (Eds.) (2008). Enabling Praxis: Challenges for Education. Rotterdam: Sense. (With reflection chapters by Jan Ax & Petra Ponte and by Karin Rönnerman, Eli Moksnes Furu & Petri Salo).
  • Rönnerman, K., Moksnes Furu, E., & Salo, P. (Eds.) (2008). Nurturing Praxis: Action research and school-university partnerships in a Nordic light.  Rotterdam: Sense. (With reflection chapters by Stephen Kemmis & Tracey Smith and by Jan Ax & Petra Ponte). 

Education for All project

  • Montesano Montessori, N., Schuman, H. & Ponte, P. (2011). Orthopedagogiek: onderzoek en praktijk, 50, 147- 159.
  • Montesano Montessori, N. & Ponte, P. (2012, in press). Researching classroom communications and relations in the light of social justice. Educational Action Research, 20(2), in press. 

Pupils as co-researchers

  • Smit, B.H.J., Verbeek, G., & Ponte, P. (2012, work in progress). Leerlingen als medeonderzoekers: participatie binnen en buiten de school..Den Haag: Boom Lemma Uitgevers.
  • Van Bommel, D. & Rijnbeek, F. (2011). Leerlingen als medeonderzoekers. Een motiverende werkwijze voor hoogbegaafde leerlingen. Nieuwmeesterschap, 1(4), 3-9.
  • Wijk, J. van (2011) Leerlingen als medeonderzoekers. Wat kun je leren in een museum? Kunstzone, (12 December 2011), 14-15.
  • The documentary on Pupils as co-researchers. Watch the Dutch version of the documentary. Watch the English version of the documentary

Pedagogische relationships and pupils as co-researchers

  • Smit, B.H.J., Plomp, L., & Ponte, P. (2010, 29 November -2 December). Pupils and teachers as co-researchers: conditions for equal voices. Paper presented at the international symposium Consulting young people: why student voice matters. AARE conference, Melbourne, Australia. 

Teachers' thinking and their interactions with pupils

  • Touw, H. & Beukering, T. van (2009). Professional in de Spiegel: achtergronden. Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek, 11, 453-460. Utrecht: Agiel.
  • Touw, H. & Beukering, T. van (2009). Professional in de Spiegel: werkwijze. Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek, 11, 461-467. Utrecht: Agiel. 

Interpretations of teacher-pupil interactions

  • Van Kan, C.A., Ponte, P., & Verloop, N. (2013, work in progress). Teachers’ interpretations of their classroom interactions in terms of their pupils’ best interest. Journal of Professional Development, Special Issue, July 2013
  • Van Kan, C. A., Ponte, P., & Verloop, N. (2012, submitted for publication). How do teachers legitimize their classroom interactions in terms of educational values and ideals?
  • Van Kan, C. A., Ponte, P., & Verloop, N. (2010). How to conduct research on the inherent moral significance of teaching: A phenomenological elaboration of the standard repertory grid application. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(8), 1553-1562.
  • Van Kan, C.A., Ponte, P., & Verloop, N. (2010). Developing a descriptive framework for comprehending the inherent moral significance of teaching. Pedagogy Culture & Society. Vol. 18, No. 3, October 2010, 331-352. 

Pedagogische orientations

  • Van Kan, C.A., Alink, J. & Ponte, P. (2012, work in progress). Pedagogische oriëntaties van leraren in woord en beeld. Den Haag: Boom Lemma Uitgevers.

Professor and research group


Researchfellows Research Group Social Policy, Innovation and Professional Development

Professor Petra Ponte
Honorary Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of  Sydney, Adjunct Professor, Ripple, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga (both in Australia) and independent consultant.

Drs. Joke Alink
Lecturer in the Education Faculty at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences

Leon Plomp M.Ed.
Leon Plomp, PhD candidate University of Gothenburg
Lecturer at the Seminarium voor Orthopedagogiek which is now part of Utrecht University of Applied Sciences 

Drs. Ben Smit
Education research consultant, ICLON, Leiden University, Graduate School of Teaching. 

Drs. Hanne Touw
Senior lecturer, trainer and developer in the Education Faculty at the Seminarium voor Orthopedagogiek, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. Pursuing a doctorate at Utrecht University.

Drs. Carlos van Kan
Researcher at the Centre for Expertise in Vocational Education and Training (ecbo)

Gijs Verbeek, BEd