Well-attended research conference for teachers
At the end of October some 200 teachers, school heads and education developers took the opportunity to catch up with the latest Faculty of Education research at the Forskning pågår! conference, held for the fourth consecutive year, at Campus Pedagogen.
The numerous events for visitors included a keynote lecture by Thomas Lingefjärd, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies (IDPP). He spoke about ‘Imagination — an important and useful attribute’.
In the lecture, he emphasised the difficulty of learning anything at school without imagination, and discussed the question of whether the pupils get enough practice in developing this particular mental faculty.
Translating into graphs
Much of the reasoning was taken from his and Djamshid Farahani’s forthcoming article, ‘Imagination and learning’, in The Journal of Mathematical Behavior.
The article in question is based on three studies analysing students’ ability to translate three fictitious situations into graphs. The studies relate to a bouncy ball thrown from the Eiffel Tower; an iron ball rolling, at a perfect speed, up and down an inclined wooden board without tipping over the top edge; and how the centre of gravity changes in a lying, full but recently opened beverage can.
‘The role of imagination in mathematics learning is an important topic that’s not discussed very often. But our results show that students can generally imagine complex situations, although imagination, interpretation and switching to mathematical models can sometimes be quite challenging,’ Lingefjärd says.
One of the conference visitors was Lena Tyrén, an education developer at the City of Borås compulsory-school administration.
‘In three out of four years, I’ve attended Forskning pågår! In my role as developer of education it’s important, in interacting with the head teachers, to bring in the latest research. At the same time, we work together in keeping one another abreast of current education research,’ she says.
Collaboration is now under way between schools in the home municipality, Borås, and researchers. This is both welcome and desirable.
‘We’ve provided interested schools for ongoing research projects. I see that as important. Right now, we’re working hard to improve the quality of our after-school centres. There, we’re very interested in further collaboration with the University’s researchers and also in finding out about research to date,’ Tyrén says.
She considers one of several useful sessions from the day to be
‘Sustainable improvement’, about the strategy schools should have to enable new knowledge to be preserved in the organisation.
‘Unfortunately, many schools depend on money and individual employees’ commitment, not on sustainable organisational structures.’
Ever since the conference started four years ago, Anette Olin, Associate Professor of Education at the Department of Education and Special Education, jointly with colleagues at the Faculty of Education’s other departments, has coordinated the conference. This year, attendance was higher than ever.
‘The conference works like an arena where we can present all our ongoing research. It’s aimed at the many stakeholders in the broad field of education.
‘We hope to contribute support for the research basis of education, as referred to in the Education Act. The conference gives us a chance to network. This can result in, for instance, cooperation relating to school development or a school wanting to take part in a research project or simply use our research results in its work.’
Many collaboration requests from the field, from school staff, come to her and her research colleagues at Campus Pedagogen.
‘A lot is channelled through the Swedish National Agency for Education. But these days, many direct inquiries come from municipalities and schools wanting to collaborate with us.’
Forskning pågår! is an in-service training conference for staff in pre-school and compulsory education and after-school centres, upper secondary and adult education or other educational activities, and also the sports movement and the health sector.