The person-oriented approach: A short theoretical and practical guide


  • Lars R. Bergman
  • Margit Wångby



person-oriented, individual development, longitudinal, school grades


A short overview of the person-oriented approach is given as a guide to the researcher interested in carrying out person-oriented research. Theoretical, methodological, and practical considerations of the approach are discussed. First, some historical roots are traced, followed by a description of the holisticinteractionistic research paradigm, which provided the general framework for the development of the modern person-oriented approach. The approach has both a theoretical and a methodological facet and after presenting its key theoretical tenets, an overview is given of some common person-oriented methods. Central to the person-oriented approach is a system view with its components together forming a pattern regarded as indivisible. This pattern should be understood and studied as a whole, not broken up into pieces (variables) that are studied as separate entities. Hence, usually methodological tools are used by which whole patterns are analysed (e.g. cluster analysis). An empirical example is given where the pattern development of school grades is studied.


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How to Cite

Bergman, L. R., & Wångby, M. (2014). The person-oriented approach: A short theoretical and practical guide. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri. Estonian Journal of Education, 2(1), 29–49.