Seminar Series 2009

All are welcome, including our HDR students and any other interested parties.


Seminar One:   Wednesday, February 25, 5-6.20pm

State of Art in Conceptual Change Research and Implications for Instruction

Presenter: Stella Vosniadou, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Department of Philosophy and History of Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Abstract: I will trace the roots of conceptual change research and its development over the years delineating the main theoretical and methodological questions taht it raised for the learning of science and recently for mathematics education as well. I will focus on the similarities and differences between the theory-change persepctice and the knowledge-in-pieces perspective and discuss in some detail my own position on conceptual change. I will argue that we need to make a distinction between students' preconceptions before they are exposed to science or mathematics and the misconceptions result after exposure to science. Many of these misconceptions are synthetic models resulting from students' constructive but inappropriate attemts to synthesize scientific information with incompatible intial knowledge. In order to develop successful science education we need to create research-based curricula that take into consideration the students point of view and provide all the necessary information for conceptual change ot be achieved. Also, instruction needs to be provided that makes it possible for students to move from their naive, perceptually-based epistemologies to an understanding of conceptual models in science and mathematics. These changes cannot be acheived by cognitive means alone but require extensive socio-cultural support.

Biography: Stella Vosniadou is Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Philosophy and History of Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She is the current chair of the Cognitive Science Division, of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Cognitive Science between the University of Athens and the Economic University of Athens, and director of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at the University of Athens. She is also the co-director of the 'Undergraduate Program in Gender and Equality' at the University of Athens.

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Seminar Two:   Wednesday, March 4, 4.30-6.20pm

The Teaching of Statistics in Japanese Elementary Schools

Presenter:Toshiyuki Ooka and Minoru Ohtani, Kanazawa University, Japan

Abstract: The teaching of statistics has nto been part of the Japanese elementary school curriculum. However, the new Japanese mathematics curriculum, due to commence in 2011, will include statistics in the upper grades. This seminar will focus on a teaching experiment being carried out to research the teaching of statistics in upper elementary grades in Japan. Theoretical and practical aspects will be presented, together with an example of a Japanese lesson.

Biography:Toshiyuki Ooka is an elementary school teacher who is completing his masters studies at Kanazawa University. His interests are in the teaching of statistics and modelling. Professor Minoru Ohtani is a professor of mathematics education at Kanazawa University. His areas of research interest include mathmatical discourse, Cultural-historical Activity theory, symbolization, and proportional reasoning. His recent activities include research projects investigating mathematics education for gifted students in Russian Federation, a comparative study of creativity and ingenuity in mathematics education in Japan, US, Korea and Russia, and leading a delegation of 20 Japanese on a study tour of the Netherlands to investigate the Realistic Mathematics Education movement.

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Seminar Three:   Friday, April 24, 1.00-2.00pm

Research auditing internationally: a discussion of a recent journal volume of ACCESS and research reporting in the Singapore and Aotearoa/New Zealand domains

Presenter: Richard Smith, NIE, Singapore

Abstract: The auditing of research has become a global phenomenon. Two recent publications have highlighted the trends in research reporting on an international scale (Besley, 2008; Smith & Lingard, 2008). I recently guest co-edited with Bob Lingard a Special Issue of ACCESS: Critical Issues on Communication, Cultural and Policy Studies (2008, 27, 1&2) entitled ‘The politics of educational research: International perspectives on research accountability and audit systems’. This double issue of 204 pages contained: an introductory and concluding articles; three broad overview articles by academics in the USA, Australia and New Zealand; two articles on reflections on the PBRF in New Zealand and a comparative piece on the RAE in the UK by a New Zealand academic then based in Scotland; plus the findings from six country reports on China; Hong Kong; Australia (two articles); and England, Wales and Scotland. Thus the edition contained some 14 articles in total with contributions from 18 authors. In this seminar I provide a brief overview of the publication in general and then more specifically focus upon what is happening in research assessment in Singapore, comparing this to the changes occurring in Aotearoa/New Zealand as my kiwi colleagues prepare for the next round of the PBRF in 2012. I hope to provide some reflective insights into other country domains as my Australian colleagues embark on their first round of the ERA.

Biography: Richard Smith is an Assistant Professor in Policy and Leadership Studies at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Prior to Singapore he held appointments at AUT University, Auckland, and Unitec, Auckland. He has researched on higher education systems and in particular the PBRF and in 2005 he co-edited a book on this topic, Punishing the discipline – the PBRF regime: Evaluating the position of education – where to from here? with Dr. Joce Jesson (The University of Auckland). Richard serves on the editorial boards of several national and international journals in education, teacher education and educational policy and leadership. Contact: richard.smith@nie.edu.sg

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 Seminar Four:   Thursday, July 16, 3.00-4.30pm

Exploring methodologies to enable young people's voices to be heard in educational research

 

Presenter: Geri Smyth, Reader, Department of Childhood and Primary Studies, University of Strathclyde Faculty of Education

Abstract: In applied education research, a primary goal is to impact upon policy and practice in educational settings. For this reason the Schools and Social Capital (SSC) Network of the Applied Educational Research Scheme (AERS), a research collaboration amongst teacher education institutions in Scotland, adopted an approach in which teachers and pupils were encouraged to engage with and inform the research process.
Projects undertaken in the SSC Network considered outcomes of schooling in the context of social capital. In planning the research activities we noted that in many previous studies there is an absence of children’s voices. The assumption appears to be that young people are passive beneficiaries of various interventions. There are however some notable exceptions in the literature. We identified these studies and used them to inform the methodologies used in our research.
This seminar will raise issues of ethics and validity and propose methodologies for including children’s voice and enabling their active participation in applied research into aspects of schooling. Examples are drawn from recent research and supplemented with observations arising from research in the SSC Network. The seminar will pose questions about the implications for validity and also for the impact of research.

Biography: Dr. Geri Smyth is a Reader in the Department of Childhood and Primary Studies. Dr Smyth teaches courses for pre-service and practicing teachers on Support for Bilingual Learners and on Social justice issues, specifically those related to refugees. Dr. Smyth's research is predominantly ethnographic.   She has researched the attitudes of mainstream teachers to bilingual learners, the creativity of bilingual learners, the perspectives of refugee pupils in Scottish schools and the experiences of refugee teachers.   She is particularly interested in exploring methodologies which will enable young people's voices to be heard in educational research.  Dr. Smyth is principal Investigator for an AERS Schools and Social Capital Network project on Social Capital as an indicator of effective educational provision for refugee pupils.  She has recently been awarded a research contract from the West Forum to investigate the experiences of refugee teachers in Scotland.

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 Seminar Five:   Friday, July 17, 1.00-2.30pm

Refugee teachers in Scotland – diversifying the teaching profession

 

Presenter: Geri Smyth, Reader, Department of Childhood and Primary Studies, University of Strathclyde Faculty of Education

Abstract: This seminar will report on the work of the Refugees Into Teaching in Scotland (RITeS) project. Within the broader debate about refugee integration and the specific context of widening inclusivity to refugee professionals in the UK, there are increasing concerns about the relatively homogeneous composition of the teaching profession of Scotland.   The RITeS project, funded by the Scottish Government, has to date (June 2009) registered over 270 refugee teachers, and works with them to help them achieve their goal of teaching in Scotland.   The seminar will refer to research which draws on the experiences of these teachers in order to depict their journeys into teaching in Scotland.  Following a discussion of the current ethnic and linguistic diversity of pupils and teachers in Scotland the seminar will report on the demography of the refugee teachers’ group and discuss the barriers to achieving their goal and the benefits to Scottish education of enabling these barriers to be overcome.   Data is drawn from the database of teachers, semi-structured interviews with 24 of the teachers and post-observation discussions with 6 of the teachers in practice in Scottish schools.  Barriers to teaching in Scotland include their immigration status in the country (asylum seekers are not allowed to work); English language ability; non- equivalence of qualifications and lack of knowledge of the Scottish education system.   It is important that the time taken to overcome these barriers does not result in total de-skilling of the individuals as teaching professionals.   The project therefore works with partner agencies to organise work shadowing in Scottish schools, English language classes and teaching seminars.   It is vital that the professionalism and  confidence of the refugee teachers is sustained to enable them to be able to practice their profession across borders, including within Scotland.

Biography: Dr. Geri Smyth is a Reader in the Department of Childhood and Primary Studies. Dr Smyth teaches courses for pre-service and practicing teachers on Support for Bilingual Learners and on Social justice issues, specifically those related to refugees. Dr. Smyth's research is predominantly ethnographic.   She has researched the attitudes of mainstream teachers to bilingual learners, the creativity of bilingual learners, the perspectives of refugee pupils in Scottish schools and the experiences of refugee teachers.   She is particularly interested in exploring methodologies which will enable young people's voices to be heard in educational research.  Dr. Smyth is principal Investigator for an AERS Schools and Social Capital Network project on Social Capital as an indicator of effective educational provision for refugee pupils.  She has recently been awarded a research contract from the West Forum to investigate the experiences of refugee teachers in Scotland.

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 Seminar Six:   Friday, July 17, 5.00-7.00pm

Modelling Nature:Introducing Children to Practices and Concepts of Natural Science

 

Presenter: Richard Lehrer and Leona Schauble,Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College

Abstract: This talk addresses the problem of designing classroom settings where students have the opportunity to generate knowledge by inventing and revising models of natural systems. Because classroom settings are complex ecologies, successful design requires a working model of how components of the design, including tasks, inscriptions, material means, and forms of argument, function to promote epistemic development. These ideas are illustrated in an extended program of design research oriented toward introducing children to modelling, a form of knowing characteristic of the natural sciences. The example highlights the considerations that informed the guiding epistemology, the elements of design and their orchestration, and the forms of student learning that resulted.

Biography: Rich Lehrer is Professor of Science Education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. From his website:   My research focuses on children's mathematical and scientific reasoning in the context of schooling, with a special emphasis on tools and notations for developing thought. There are two major strands to this program. The first focuses on the design of learning environments that foster the growth and development of model-based reasoning about mathematics and science. This research, conducted with Leona Schauble, involves collaboration with teachers in local schools to reform mathematics and science so that students can invent and revise models as forms of mathematical and scientific explanation. We work with teachers to design a cumulative science education centered about modeling practices. In a related reform effort, I collaborate with teachers to redesign elementary-grade mathematics to include systematic investigation of space and geometry.


Leona Schauble is Professor of Education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. She is a cognitive developmental psychologist with research interests in the relations between everyday reasoning and more formal, culturally-supported, and schooled forms of thinking, such as scientific and mathematical reasoning. Her research concerns topics such as belief change in contexts of scientific experimentation, strategy change, and causal inference. A second important theme in Professor Schauble's research is the design and study of instruction. Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree, she joined the staff developing Sesame Street at the Children's Television Workshop. Her subsequent fifteen years at CTW provided practical experience in research and the design of education. Since completing her PhD she has continued studies of learning in both informal and formal educational settings.  Her current research focus, in collaboration with Professor Richard Lehrer, is on the origins and development of model-based reasoning in school mathematics and science.

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 Seminar Seven:   Tuesday, August 12, 12.30-2.00pm

The Québec Education Program and the Science and Technology curriculum

 

Presenter: Isabelle Arseneau, Master Student in Science Education, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

Abstract: The didactic approach, developed by Gerard Fourez, which incorporates interdisciplinary studies in science class for secondary students, is an approach for teachers to effectively tackle controversial social issues, such as environmental concerns. “L’îlot de rationalité” (island of rationality) considers constructivism as an epistemological posture about science and the focus is on its application for understanding the social nature of local and global environmental issues.   This seminar will concentrate mainly on the Québec Education Program for secondary school, a curriculum for the twenty-first century. Québec’s present education system is the product of previous efforts to adapt it to the present time. Even if the objective-based programs of study developed in the 1980s and 1990s played a role in the genesis of the current reform, the division of their content into a multitude of objectives fostered a fragmented approach to knowledge and learning. The Education program based on a competency-based approach now possesses focal points for the integration of educational activities like the broad areas of learning and the cross-curricular competencies. The focus will be on the Science and Technology subject area and it will be illustrated by an example of a learning situation that I conducted last year with my students.

However, some critiques of the new curriculum need to be addressed to contextualize my research project and the interest in the “îlot de rationalité” as an interdisciplinary approach for science and environmental education. Finally, a brief description of the steps of the approach will be presented. Some reservations have been expressed to our research team and it appears necessary to simplify the approach from our first representation to make it more inviting for teachers and students, all the while keeping the spirit of working to complexify the students’ relation to the scientific knowledge.

Biography: Isabelle Arseneau is currently working with the STEME research program of EFI.  As a young science teacher working in secondary schools in Quebec, Canada, she is well positioned to introduce reformed curriculum in science and technology.  She has been trained in the new program of science education based on the competency-based approach first implemented at Laval University.  Her current masters research looks at the didactic approach, developed by Gerard Fourez, which incorporates interdisciplinary studies in science education for secondary students. 


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 Seminar Eight:   Thursday, October 8, 11.00-12.30pm

Designing internet-based educational software

 

Presenter: Peter Boon, Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Abstract: During the last few years, Peter has been working in close co-operation with schools and teachers on the integration of digital activities (applets) into longer learning trajectories that are embedded in a digital learning environment. This Digital Math Environment (DME) is an internet-based learning environment that is now used by more than 100 Dutch schools. Embedding the applets in the DME offers new possibilities that improve their usability in educational practices. For example, students' work is stored and can be made accessible for teachers. Activities can also be arranged and customized by teachers.
A recent development within the DME project is the design of a (mathematical) authoring tool for making new digital activities for students without the need for programming. Applets can thus be used (in a flexible way) as interactive components within learning trajectories. The development and use of this kind of authoring facility is necessary for the design of rich and versatile digital curriculum materials.
In this seminar, Peter will present and discuss various aspects and background ideas underlying his design work on internet-based educational software, and demonstrate some of his products and prototypes.

Biography: Peter Boon is a senior java programming specialist, mathematics curriculum developer and researcher. He combines his technology expertise and his mathematics teacher background to develop rich learning content that can be easily used by students and teachers. A wide range of th!nklets have been programmed for algebra and geometry, as well as a variety of basic skills th!nklets. Some of these have been translated into English and can be found at www.fi.uu.nl/wisweb/en.

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 Seminar Nine:   Friday, October 9, 1.30 - 3.00pm

Realistic Mathematics Education: The underlying theory

 

Presenter: Frans van Galen,Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Abstract: A series of lessons on area will be used to illustrate both the development of a local instruction theory, and socio-constructivist ideas about the class as a community of practice.

The project on graphing involves the development of computer programs that let children reinvent – to some degree – the basic principles behind graphs.

Sadly enough there will not be time to discuss the math games Frans and others have developed for children, but you can play these at www.rekenweb.nl (in Dutch) or at www.thinklets.nl (a selection in English).

Biography: Frans van Galen is a developer and researcher at the Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He will speak about the theory of Realistic Mathematics Education that has been developed in the Netherlands over a period of about 40 years and is used in many Dutch schools. He will illustrate important concepts from that theory – like 'guided reinvention' and 'emergent modelling' – with examples from his own work on area and the use of graphs.

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Seminar Ten:   Monday, October 12, 4.30-6.20pm

Design Research and Engineering Research: Their roles in educational improvement

 

Presenter: Professor Hugh Burkhardt, University of Nottingham, UK& Berkeley, USA

Abstract:It is now fairly widely recognized that traditional educational research, while providing important insights into learning and teaching, has little detectable impact on educational practice.
The contrast with medicine and other professional fields is stark. This talk will analyze methodological issues that this raises and the roles that ‘design research’ and ‘engineering research’ in education can play in providing an effective channel for linking research to practice. The opportunities for collaboration among researchers with complementary skill that this offers will be discussed, as will the features of the traditional academic value system that inhibits such progress.

Biography: Hugh Burkhardt has been at the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education at the University of Nottingham since 1976 and was its Director until 1992. Since then he has led a series of collaborative projects with UC Berkeley, Michigan State and Harvard including Balanced Assessment, MARS (Mathematics Assessment Resource Service), its development of a Toolkit for Change Agents. He is the Project Director of MARS with particular responsibility for project processes and progress. He takes an 'engineering' view of educational research and development – that it is about systematic design and development to make a complex system work better, with theory as a guide and empirical evidence the ultimate arbiter. Currently the Bowland Maths project is forwarding another core interest – making mathematics more functional for everyone through teaching real problem solving and mathematical modelling – as is a new project in the US on developing material to support teachers embarking on formative assessment. Hugh is Chair of ISDDE, the International Society for Design and Development in Education.

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