Vacant or viable?

Niche as metaphor for understanding the status of German and Canadian research approaches in adult education




Canada, Germany, quantitative research, adult education research, comparative


Beginning with Boeren’s (2018) or Rubenson and Elfert’s (2019) claims of under-recognition of quantitative methodology in adult education, authors use the ecological niche from biology as a metaphorical and heuristic model in order to consider the mechanisms determining the viability of research methodologies in education for adults. The authors discuss ecosystem factors affecting research methodologies and consider the situations of Germany and Canada to illustrate application of the niche metaphor. The conclusion stresses the complementary relevance and integrative value of different forms of research. Addressing diverse questions requires diverse methodologies and a rich ecosystem of resources and research capabilities.


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Author Biography

Bernd Käpplinger, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany

Prof. Dr.


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How to Cite

Käpplinger, B., & St. Clair, R. (2023). Vacant or viable? Niche as metaphor for understanding the status of German and Canadian research approaches in adult education. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 14(2).



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