Leave a comment

Reflections on ESERA 2015 Conference, in Helsinki, Finland

After months of intense work and preparation, both with the programme itself and the local practical organization, it was exhilarating when 31 August finally arrived and the ESERA 2015 week was upon us. As the conference officially started on Monday afternoon with the opening ceremony and the first keynotes’ presentation, we were expecting to have a quiet morning with few on-site registrations. However, very quickly we experienced a flood of eager participants lining up in front of the registration desk and the week started at a high speed and continued so throughout! Already on Monday we could sense from the general atmosphere that the participants were excited to be in Helsinki, share their contributions at ESERA 2015, and strengthen their existing networks of professionals and make new acquaintances. The conference site personnel quickly shared this same feeling with us and they were amazed and pleased at the positive energy that all the participants brought together. For the first time in an ESERA conference we encouraged the keynote speakers to plan beforehand the social interaction side of their presentations. Not only the organizers, but it seemed that a great part of the audience enjoyed the possibility to send questions beforehand, follow the interaction of two keynote speakers, and use Twitter and Flinga online during the keynotes. We did our very best to provide you with a week that would be fulfilling both research-wise and getting to know a bit of Helsinki. Throughout the week we were touched by the positive feedback that the participants so generously gave us face-to-face.

Although on Friday afternoon our general feeling was extremely thankful, happy (and perhaps even of relief) for the successful week we had had, we realize that the week was not without challenges, some of which had brought irritation and frustration among some participants. The days were long and most sessions had a large number of parallel sessions of which to choose the presentations that were the most interesting and benefitting to each. With such a large number of presentations and presenters, it is impossible to schedule all sessions in a way that would please all. The Science community consists of professionals of different lengths of experience, working from diverse settings with different customs of giving presentations and diverse ways of even doing research. Thus there is bound to be heterogeneity in the presentations, also in quality. The ESERA community functions in English as a lingua franca and as speakers and users of a language that most of us did not grow up with, we also have to be supportive of improving each other and ourselves as listeners and presenters. We thank you for the constructive and even critical feedback that we’ve received through the online questionnaire. We will study the feedback meticulously in the coming weeks and we hope that the next ESERA conference organizers in Dublin, Ireland will be able to utilize it for the benefit of every participant in order to improve the overall quality of the conference.

We want to thank each and every one of the participants at ESERA 2015 for all your contributions during the week. You made the conference to be what it was. We also want to thank our wonderful group of student assistants who were just as committed and excited to being part of ESERA 2015 as the local organizing committee. We wish you all success in your future research and look forward to soon receiving your papers for the eProceedings. And of course we look forward to meeting you again in Dublin in 2017!

Best wishes on behalf of the local organizing committee,

Jarkko Lampiselkä, Jari Lavonen and Kaisa Hahl


Photo by Markus Juvonen

Leave a comment

Hot fresh student reflections from ESERA Summer School

We are enjoying networking and discussing our projects during our time here in nice and warm Bad Honnef. We have been divided into working groups where we discuss our projects in depth with the help of two coaches from different parts of Europe. Its great to get new views on our projects from different research traditions and approaches. Everybody should be allowed to go to ESERA Summer School! We would like to write more, but the BBQ is heating up.

Leave a comment

ESERA 2012 Summer School: reflections from a coach

Pomegranate, Nicosia, 4 June 2012

This week (22-27 July 2012), 14 experienced and 49 early career researchers are gathered in the Physikzetrum, the building of the German Physics Society, in Bad Honnef. This is the biannual summer school for PhD students organized by the European Science Education Research Association.

The summer school comprises invited lectures on contemporary science education research issues, workshops with an emphasis on research methods and paradigms and a number of sessions of group work.

During this week each student will take turns to present their research design and preliminary findings in front of two coaches and a group of another six students. They will then receive detailed feedback by the whole group and the coaches separately so that they can then go back and improve their design but also work more consistently from hope at connecting with the international research community and developing their scientific voice.

This part of the summer school is a very intensive and normally very rewarding experience for everyone. One of the things that I find challenging as a coach is to remind myself that these are all research studies that have emerged in a diversity of educational system contexts and also with markedly different programme structures across the many universities represented here. I have to consciously refrain from thinking about what I personally find interesting or not and how I would perhaps myself have organized a study in the particular domain. For me the real challenge has been to try and really understand how each of the participants is thinking about their work and starting from where they are at to try and offer a few specific ideas as an outsider that might be helpful in developing the study in a way that would enhance the interest and value from the perspective of the international community of science education researchers. In doing this I find it supportive to get to know the members of my group as well as possible but also to talk to people from other groups in how they go about synthesizing the information from the written synopsis, the poster, the presentation and the interactions with each PhD researcher in a meaningful whole.

I find that in doing this I am developing a lot of respect for the substantial and devoted efforts of these new colleagues that I see around me every day of this week. I am hopeful that in these difficult times that many of us are experiencing, we, as a community, will also contribute in a small way in keeping thoughtful reflection, evidence-based practice and deep understanding high enough in our social priorities so that we can continue to support the researchers’ work that is so necessary in making education a valuable and rewarding experience for all young people.

Costas Constantinou

University of Cyprus

24 July 2012