2017-09-07 08:37

Educational researchers learn from each other’s differences

In August, educational researchers travelled from all over the world to Borås to discuss their research and learn more about the research field.

The meeting,  jointly hosted by the University of Borås and Gothenburg University, was part of a bigger network activity, where the researchers work together to understand the educational activities that take place in schools and other educational contexts around the world.

”How we understand education and pedagogy can vary a lot between, say, the Nordic and the Anglo-Saxon countries. This may sound self-evident now, but it wasn’t initially. We have come to a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness of local national traditions and understandings, and how important these are when trying to bring about educational change. Insights like these are possible when people from different countries work together”, say Lill Langelotz and Kathleen Mahon, who are two of the researchers from the University of Borås active in the international research network Pedagogy, Education and Praxis (PEP).

Facts PEP
The research network Pedagogy, Education and Praxis (PEP) gathers educational researchers from Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

­Different research traditions in different countries

Emeritus Professor Stephen Kemmis, Charles Sturt University, Australia, was one of those starting the network in connection to an educational research conference in 2005.

”We were all researchers gathered from around the world to discuss our research at an English-speaking conference. The colleagues who were not English speaking had difficulties expressing themselves in such a way that it was apparent that they were drawing on an academic approach or an intellectual tradition. In the discussions, it became evident that this was not only about language but also that different parts of the world had different traditions in our common field of research”, he says.

After the conference, a group of researchers started working on joint research projects across national borders in order to exchange knowledge about each other’s traditions and reflect on their own knowledge in light of situations in other countries. During the first years, researchers from different countries wrote books based on their own traditions which were concluded with a chapter where researchers from other countries commented on what was discussed in the book, based on their own tradition. In that way, the national differences became increasingly clear – something they could also learn a lot from.

Keeping the network active

In order to keep the network alive, the researchers continuously plan new joint activities. One important part is the doctoral courses that the network has regularly organised since 2008. A new course started in connection with the meeting in Borås. One of the participants is Kathrin Olsen, doctoral student from Nord University in Norway.

“The course we just started is based on one of the works written by researchers in the network. I have devoted the last few years reading up on the theories we now immerse ourselves in, and being able to come and listen and discuss ideas with these writers is an incredible privilege.”

One of the books edited by researchers in the network is “Practice Theory Perspectives on Pedagogy and Education: Praxis Diversity and Contestation” and is about so-called practice theories, which concern the connections between individual, collective, and the structures and systems that shape and are shaped by the world we live in. The theories of the book fit Kathrin Olsen’s dissertation work like a hand in a glove.

“I investigate how preschool teachers support children with autism in everyday situations, and how different conditions such as physical environment and curriculum affect the practical work. In order to compare where the affecting conditions really are about the pedagogy, I have studied preschools in both Norway and England.”

In addition to the doctoral courses, where the doctoral students work together across national borders, the members of the network arrange annual meetings where they look at the current situation and which research projects they should proceed with. During the eleven years the network has existed, the researchers have produced hundreds of scientific publications, of which several are books published by reputable academic publishers – and nothing indicates that they are about to slow down.

More about the research behind the network

To Kathleen Mahon’s research profile

To Lill Langelotz’s research profile

A selection of the network’s publications

Ax, J. & Ponte, P. (Eds.). (2008). Critiquing praxis: The teaching profession in contemporary educational praxis. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Kemmis, S. & Smith, T.J. (Eds.). (2008). Enabling praxis: Challenges for education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Mattsson, M. with Sandström, B. & Johansson, I. (Eds.). (2008). Examining praxis: Assessments and knowledge construction in teacher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Rönnerman, K., Furu, E.M. & Salo, P. (Eds.). (2008). Nurturing praxis: Action research in partnerships between school and university in a Nordic light. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Mattsson, M., Eilertsen, T.V. & Rorrison, D. (Eds.). (2011). A practicum turn in teacher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Grootenboer, P., Edwards-Groves, C. & Choy. S. (Eds) (2017). Practice Theory Perspectives on Pedagogy and Education: Praxis diversity and contestation. Singapore: Springer.

Mahon, K., Francisco, S. & Kemmis, S. (Eds.), (2017). Exploring education and professional practice - Through the lens of practice architectures. Singapore: Springer.

Wilkinson, J., Bristol, L., & Ponte, P. (Eds.) (2016). Professional development: Education for all as praxis. Routledge.

Edwards-Groves, C. & Rönnerman, K. (in preparation, 2016). Generative Leadership: Rescripting the promise of action research. Singapore: Springer

Rönnerman, K. & Salo, P. (Eds) (2014). Lost in Practice: Transforming Nordic Educational Action Research. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Bristol, L. & Grootenboer, P. (2014). Changing education: Changing practices. Singapore: Springer Education.

Edwards-Groves, C., Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2014). Classroom Talk: Understanding dialogue, pedagogy and practice. Newtown, Sydney: Primary English Teaching Association Australia.