Keynote sessions

  • Keynote I, Monday, March 16: Jan Bransen, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Educational Science as a Practice of Responsibly Reshaping Authority

Educational science is one of those social sciences that permanently struggles with the ill-conceived distinction between pure and applied science. Failing to escape the undermining effects of this distinction within Academia, educational science seems to have withdrawn itself in a remote niche in which it fruitlessly tries to deny its own inertia. The way out, I shall argue, is to radically refute the distinction between pure and applied science and to boldly claim that it is precisely educational science that is most appropriate to show how to refute this distinction. What we need for that is to take the adjective ‘educational’ literally.

Educational science is not a science that studies education as if it were an object. Rather, I shall argue, it should understand itself as a mode of inquiry, of life long investigation, an intrinsically dynamic and transitional process of continuously and responsibly reshaping authority. Science, especially social science, is not merely a matter of epistemic authority, of silencing others by means of advancing objective evidence. It is also, and primarily so, a matter of phronesis, of the practical wisdom of those who can listen, who can build confidence and mutual understanding. Taking this seriously will enable us to understand why educational science should leave its peripheral hideout to take center stage in the university.

There is a sense in which this is not a new view at all, but a renaissance of a rather traditional ideal: the university as a place for learning, the treasure of a culture that aspires to be responsibly self-critical.

  • Keynote II, Friday, March 20: William R Penuel, Institute of Cognitive Science and School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO USA

Expanding Design Research to Transform Learning Across Settings

Learning is a cross-setting phenomenon; that is, it unfolds over time and across different spaces of social practice. Yet, most design presumes that learning can be supported in a single setting. And most research focuses on learning that takes place within a single setting, and over a relatively short period of time. Design research, an approach to studying and supporting learning simultaneously, can be expanded to imagine and study new possibilities for learning across levels of educational systems, as well as across opportunities within a community.

In this presentation, Penuel will introduce the principles of Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR), an approach to research and development that can be undertaken within long-term partnerships among researchers, educators, and community members. As an approach to research and development, DBIR adheres to four principles: (1) Teams form around a focus on shared goals that address persistent problems of educational inequity identified through negotiation among multiple stakeholders’ perspectives and values; (2) To improve practice, teams commit to iterative, collaborative design; (3) to promote quality in the research and development process, teams develop theory, knowledge, and practical tools related to both learning and implementation through systematic inquiry; (4) To promote quality in the research and development process, teams develop theory, knowledge, and practical tools related to both learning and implementation through systematic inquiry.

Penuel will illustrate how these four principles are enacted through a long-term partnership involving university researchers, a school district, and multiple community partners to develop curriculum materials that link to students interests and to ongoing community endeavors. The partnership’s work illustrates how learning is coordinated across levels of a system to promote coherent instructional change, and how students are able to link learning in one setting to personal and community concerns. In his concluding remarks, Penuel will offer some principles for adapting the model to different national and local policy contexts and the infrastructures required to do so.