Keynote sessions

Walking our talk? Doing justice to dynamics in learning research

Where learning takes place, who learns and what should be learned is increasingly diverse and to some extent unpredictable. While it is increasingly recognized that learners differ, that learning can extend across multiple contexts and that learning does not or should not have predefined outcomes, how learning research account for these findings varies. Research designs that, implicitly or not, constrain the who, what and where of learning overlook essential dynamics of learning, resulting in only a partial understanding of learning. This talk first present the case for person-centered research designs that are responsive to individual learners and to learning wherever and whenever it manifests itself, while recognizing that researchers themselves are part of that design. Second, utopian methodologies are presented and discussed, challenging the nature of research itself.

How tracking divides youth. The consequences of the Flemish hierarchical educational system.

The Flemish educational system is characterized by rigid, hierarchical tracking and free track and school choice. The track youngsters enroll in in secondary education is largely determined by their social background. At the same time, students in distinct tracks vary greatly on a number of outcomes, such as achievement and involvement, misconduct and civic attitudes, and well-being and health. Students in the “lowest” tracks – vocational education – are usually doing worse on each of these indicators. The differences between students in different tracks cannot be explained solely by their weaker social background. The hierarchical character of the educational system is not only responsible for the overrepresentation of weaker social backgrounds in vocational and technical education, but creates a gap between youth in several ways.