Keynotes & Special Events

Prof. Dr. Jan-Eric Gustafsson

Department of Education
Göteborg University

Effects of international comparative research on educational quality on the quality of educational research

Large-scale survey studies of educational achievement at the school system level are becoming increasingly frequent, and they are conspicuously present in both educational policy debates and within the educational research community. One main aim of these studies is to provide descriptions of inputs, processes and outcomes, and another aim is to provide explanations of how different factors interrelate to produce different outcomes. These aims are difficult to reach, which in combination with the fact the comparative studies are typically more policy driven than theory driven, are reasons why these studies are contested on quality grounds. In the presentation a set of fundamental methodological challenges related to the validity of the measurement instruments and to the possibility of making inferences about causality are identified and discussed in relation to examples of different studies. Having identified strengths and weaknesses of comparative survey studies as a research approach, the discussion is broadened to consider strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, contrasting in particular large-scale quantitative studies with small-scale qualitative studies. Criteria for evaluating quality of research conducted with different approaches are discussed, and finally a model is suggested for how complementarities between different approaches may be taken advantage of, so as to improve the quality of educational research.


Prof. Dr. Jenny Ozga

Centre for Educational Sociology (CES)
The University of Edinburgh

Governing Knowledge: Research Steering and Research Quality

The lecture will take as its central theme the impact of research steering mechanisms on the quality or qualities of research in education, in order to discuss the current policy preoccupation with research quality in education as an aspect of education governance. The lecture will draw on a range of literature and on research in progress to explore current developments in research in education-including audit, quality assessment and evaluation, performance measurement and management, competitive funding and the growing emphasis on user needs, knowledge transfer and evidence-based policy-making.
New forms of governance are closely aligned with knowledge and information, and these play a pivotal role in both the pervasiveness of governance and its dispersed, distributed, disaggregated nature. A focus on governance in general and research governance in particular includes attention to its forms and processes, including networks and multi-level forms as well as to new kinds of policy instrument that organize political relations through communication/information (and hence legitimise that organization-see Lascoumes and Le Galès 2007). The redesign of governing as governance draws attention to new institutional forms that depend on new policy instruments (such as audit and the apparatus of Quality assurance and evaluation) - with the purpose, in the words of Lascoumes and Le Gales:
'of orienting relations between political society (via the administrative executive) and civil society (via its administered subjects) through intermediaries in the form of devices that mix technical components (measuring, calculating the rule of law, procedure) and social components (representation, symbol)'. (Lacoumes and le Galès 2007:6)
These developments will be discussed in terms of their capacity to act as political technologies for the steering of research.

Lascoumes P and Le Gales P (2007) 'Understanding Public Policy through its instruments-from the nature of instruments to the sociology of public policy instrumentation' Governance 20 (1) 1-21


Prof. Dr. Robert Slavin

Johns Hopkins University

Evidence-Based Reform in Education: What Will it Take?

Educational policy and practice have long been characterized by fads and fashions. Therefore, education does not make the kind of progress that is common in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and technology, in which scientific evaluations and extensive research and development lead to constant improvements in methods and outcomes. Education must embrace the same dynamic if it is to produce genuine progress.
This paper discusses three requirements for evidence-based reform:
1. Development and rigorous evaluation of programs for students of all ages and in all subjects,
2. Trustworthy, scientific, accessible reviews of research on available programs, and
3. Government policies that promote or incentivize the use of programs with strong evidence of effectiveness.
The paper will present the state of the art in each of these areas and will propose means of moving forward evidence-based reform.

Background References
Slavin, R.E. (2002). Evidence-based education policies: Transforming educational practice and research. Educational Researcher, 31 (7), 15-21.
Slavin, R.E. (1989). PET and the pendulum: Faddism in education and how to stop it. Phi Delta Kappan, 70, 752-758.
Slavin, R.E. (2007). What works? Issues in synthesizing educational program evaluations. Manuscript submitted for publication.


Prof. Dr. Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker

Secretary General, ERC, Brussels

On Excellence through Competition

Excellence can be the result of an individual effort to excel in a particular endeavor, but it almost always presupposes a comparison with other entities of similar talent, values or interest. This is true for almost all human endeavors, including scientific research. In Europe in particular, such comparisons are and have been impeded for various reasons, mainly for the reason of political fragmentation of the continent. This problem was recognized for the first time when the concept of the European Research Area was developed. My presentation will try to discuss these developments leading from there to the foundation of the ERC. In addition, I will discuss the impact of these developments on individual scientists, scientific institutions and national funding organizations.


European Educational Research Journal
ECER Ghent Roundtable 07

Education, Globalization and the Future of the Knowledge Economy

Professor Phillip Brown, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Professor Hugh Lauder, School of Education, Bath University

A dominant view today is of a global knowledge-based economy, driven by the application of new technologies, accelerating the shift to high-skilled, high-waged Western economies. This view is reflected in the expansion of higher education and the key role of higher education in national and European economic policy.
The Lisbon agenda seeks to make the European Union 'the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion'. Not only is education believed to hold the key to international competitiveness but to the foundations of social justice and social cohesion.

This talk will challenge these assumptions drawing on key findings from a major study of corporate strategies and the future of skills, involving leading transnational companies and policy-makers from seven countries: China, Germany, India, Korea, Singapore, United States and the United Kingdom. It will examine some of the latest trends that are shaping the global supply of university graduates and the demand for 'knowledge' workers. It will examine why leading companies still see themselves in a 'war for talent' at the same time that there is a global wealth of talent, and why we may be witnessing the rise of high skilled, low waged economies in the United States and Europe.

In conclusion, it will be argued that the human capital assumptions on which the current education consensus rests are historically contingent and increasingly redundant in the early decades of the twenty first century. We will also consider the implications of these findings for educational research in Europe.


Prof. Dr. WANG Yingjie, School of Education, Beijing Normal University

Stephan Vincent-Lancrin OECD/Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI)

Anders Hingel, Analyses and Indicators Unit, Lifelong Learning, DG Education, EU Commission


Information about EERA's "EERQI-Project"
Development of European Educational Research Quality Indicators

Thursday, 20th September 2007, 12.30 - 13.30

Prof. Dr. Ingrid Gogolin, EERA-President

The "European Educational Research Quality Indicators (EERQI)" Project is a collaborative effort initiated by EERA and supported by various learned societies, academic publishers houses, XEROX France, higher education institutions and research institutions. The aim is to improve the current situation of research quality indicators within the social sciences and humanities. The field of educational research shall serve as prototype for this development. The project will develop new research quality indicators, together with more comprehensive technical tools and methodologies. The multilingual context of Europe will be taken into consideration in order to reinforce and enhance the visibility and competitiveness of European scientists and scientific research. The project proposal has been submitted to the 7th framework of the European Commission.


Pre-Conference Plenary Sessions

Karen Vandevelde

Department of Research Affairs, Ghent University

Doctoral Schools at Ghent University

This presentation is a reflection on the preparation phase of setting up Doctoral Schools at Ghent University, and - as a case study - aims to clarify the extent to which educational research can and should feed into policy initiatives.

The Doctoral Schools at Ghent University - officially to be launched on 26 September 2007, are the result of an 18-month birthing process steered by various actors in the university management. They are informed by, on the one hand, local, national as well as international studies on Ph.D. performance, time-to-degree, attrition rates, satisfaction rates, and acquisition of competences; and, on the other hand, by experiences of young researchers and supervisors involved in doctorate research. Ghent University took part in a number of research projects preceding this policy decision, and is continuing to play a vital role in further research in this field through its involvement in the Research Policy Centre dealing with Human Resources in Research.

Ghent University's policy objectives behind the Doctoral Schools project are three-fold:
1. to increase (international) visibility of the Ph.D. - degree
2. to improve support for Ph.D. - researchers
3. to encourage a quality culture in doctoral research
In order to stay in touch with the needs and expectations of young researchers and supervisors, as well as with the changing international education and research environment, the Doctoral Schools will continue to rely on further research in this field, as well as on critical reflection with regard to its own objectives and practices.

On the threshold of the official Doctoral Schools launch, this paper marks the end of the Doctoral Schools preparation phase and will hopefully set the beginning of a new period of action, reflection and research in the world of doctoral researchers, doctoral degrees and doctoral careers.


Paul Smeyers

Centre for Philosophy of Education, K.U.Leuven

Educational Research: On description and interpretation

Generally educational research is grounded in the empirical traditions of the social sciences (commonly called quantitative and qualitative methods) and is as such distinguished from other forms of scholarship such as theoretical, conceptual or methodological essays, critiques of research traditions and practices and those studies grounded in the humanities (e.g., history, philosophy, literary analysis, arts-based inquiry). Since the early twentieth century, mainstream educational research is of an empirical nature. In quantitative research, one typically looks for a distribution of variables (how many are there with this or that characteristic) and for explanations, which can be of a deductive-nomological kind, incorporating universal laws (A1), or be of an inductive nature, which employ statistics (A2). Due to being subsumed under its own set of laws, quantitative research can offer either an explanation in terms of an argument (a logical structure with premises and conclusions governed by some rule of acceptance), or as a presentation of the conditions relevant to the occurrence of the event and a statement of the degree of probability of the event given these conditions. Using Polkinghorne's distinction between an 'analysis of narratives' and 'narrative analysis' one can further differentiate between two kinds of qualitative research. One may be interested in common features in different cases. Here the purpose is not only to describe categories, but also to deal with the relationships between different categories. In many cases this kind of research is generally analogous to a quantitative design (including hypotheses), with the exception that qualitative data are gathered, i.e. they refer to what people feel about, or what their experience is with, particular things, what they say that their reasons, desires and intentions are (B1). To be distinguished from this is a second kind where the researcher arranges events and actions by showing how they contribute to the evolution of a plot. The plot is the thematic line of the narrative, the narrative structure that shows how different events contribute to a narrative. This interpretive research (B2) thus goes beyond research as the accumulation of knowledge and comes close to those areas of scholarship (see above) that were distinguished from educational research grounded in the empirical traditions of the social sciences. In other words, an interpretation is offered.
In this session various problems relative to the different types of research will be dealt with. It will be argued that educational research (the study of education) should be characterized by various modes of explanation depending on the kind of theoretical interest one is pursuing. That is does not give us fixed and universal knowledge of the social world as such, but rather that it contributes to the task of improving upon our practical knowledge of ongoing social life. It presupposes dialogue between all those involved and furthermore invokes a normative stance. Finally, it should be seen as a case of positive slowness that prevents us from being absorbed in the chaos of unmediated complexity.


Ronald Soetaert and Kris Rutten

Department of Educational Studies, Ghent University

The Story of Academia. Academic stories.

How do students & professors behave in Academia? What kind of club is Academia? What kind of rules do we have to learn? Why are some of us clueless about what is happening?

In our presentation we focus on the concept of 'academic literacy' described by Bartholomae as a discursive construction: "Every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university (...). He has to learn to speak our language, to speak as we do, to try on the peculiar ways of knowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing that define the discourse of our community" (Bartholomae 1986: 4).
We will present recent ideas from multiliteracies, discourse analysis, rhetoric, narratology etc all dealing with academic literacy as "ways with words" (Heath 1983) or "ways of being in the world" (Gee 1996:viii).

We will present the major results of the educational project in which we confronted students with (academic) literacy narratives. These narratives dramatize the tension of moving from one discourse community to another. Examples from films and novels will be discussed. So the theoretical questions will be reformulated: How are students & professors represented in films, soaps, novels etc? What do we learn from these narratives? And of course; how can 'the story of academia' be linked with 'academic stories'?

Bartholomae, D.(1986). Inventing the University. Journal of Basic Writing, 5, 4-23.
Gee, J. P. (1996). Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses. London: Taylor & Francis.
Graff, G. (2003). Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.


Vernon Trafford and Shosh Leshem

Anglia Ruskin University and Oranim Academic College of Education

The Nature of Doctorateness: Theory and Practice

High levels of capability are required in four critical features of scholarly research in order for candidates to be awarded their doctorate. These areas are: Theoretical perspectives, Practice of research, Technology of the thesis and Contributing to knowledge. If these characteristics are present then your thesis will accepted as a sophisticated, conceptually coherent and complex piece of research. It will have met exacting standards of intellectual rigour and scholarship. The thesis will also have been well presented.

Achieving this level of scholarship results from candidates giving careful attention to a series of activities which are interrelated and practical.

This session will contain three parts:
  • an opening presentation on the characteristics of doctorateness;
  • a workshop in which participants will practice the process of doing doctoral research through individual and group activities;
  • a feedback plenary to report on the workshop including questions and answers.

  • This session will draw upon our experience doctoral supervision, examining and attending 85 doctoral vivas in recent years, plus conducting international workshops for doctoral candidates and supervisors.


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