Seminars and Events

All events are held at 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY unless otherwise stated.

All are welcome to those indicated as ‘public seminars’ in parentheses after the title. These are held on Monday evenings and there is no need to book. If you are coming from outside the Department and would like to attend any of the other seminars or events, please contact the convener(s) beforehand.
Click on the title of the event for further information.

Questionable research practices, low statistical power, publication bias, and the current replicability crisis

30 May 2017 12:30 - 14:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Dr Ilan Roziner, Tel Aviv University

Convener: Professor Judy Sebba, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education

In recent years, there is a growing understanding that empirical sciences are in a state of crisis: the replicability crises. In diverse areas, such as cancer research, neuroscience or social psychology, systematic attempts at replicating pivotal research findings fail in the majority of cases. In this talk, I will present the scope of this problem and then attempt to map its causes. These include data fabrication, as well as honest errors in data analysis and reporting; "Questionable Research Practices" (QRP, techniques that allow to reach the Holy Grail of p < .05), especially HARKing (Hypothesizing After Results are Known); and thoughtless application of the dominant Null Hypothesis Statistical Testing (NHST) approach. Then I will review several practices intended to improve the quality of reported research that currently gain in popularity: using larger samples; pre-registration of research hypotheses, methods, and analyses; formal statements assuring the full report of all relevant information in a publication; detailed method description in on-line supplements; public data sharing; and having statisticians involved in all the stages of research planning and implementation. The change in existing practices is slow, but it is confidently spreading to more and more scientific disciplines.

Ilan Roziner is a lecturer in the Communication Disorders Department at Tel Aviv University, Israel, where he also earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology. His interests focus on practices of assessment and evaluation, research methodology, and advanced statistical applications, such as Structural Equation Modeling and Random Coefficient Modeling. In the past, Ilan served as a head of the Organizational Surveys Sector in Government and was a co-founder and director of a private applied research service. He consults government agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic researchers in the methodology of assessment and evaluation of programs in social welfare, education, and public health. He is a happy father of two, drinks craft ales, and shoots recurve bow.

Identifying and disseminating context-appropriate ELT pedagogy: a bottom up enhancement approach

30 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Dr. Harry Kuchah Kuchah, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In recent years, ELT professionals and researchers have called for contextually appropriate forms of ELT pedagogy to be developed, arguing that the dominant discourse on ELT methodology, as promoted by local Ministry of Education policy makers around the world, has been largely generated in ideal (North) contexts and so does not reflect the challenging realities of the majority of language teaching and learning contexts in which they are being imposed. Despite these calls, there has been very little research that shows how contextually appropriate ELT pedagogies can be developed especially in the context of large under-resourced primary classrooms in sub-Saharan Africa. In this talk, I report on a research study that attempted to fill this gap by exploring the practices and perspectives of both learners and teachers about what counts as good and appropriate English language teaching in two English medium primary school contexts in Cameroon. In presenting the findings of this study, I highlight the potential contribution of a bottom-up research approach to teacher development which recognises both learner and teacher agency as well as takes account of context in the process of identifying and disseminating good practice.

Using secondary data to examine the transition of science graduates into highly skilled STEM jobs

05 June 2017 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Emma Smith, Department of Education, University of Leicester

Conveners: Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Concerns about shortages of highly skilled science, engineering, technology and mathematics graduates are well established and have persisted for some time. Although these claims have been challenged, they have formed the basis of policies directing considerable resources to STEM education at compulsory and post-compulsory levels. In this paper we consider a range of secondary data sources (including data from HESA, the 1970 British birth cohort study and the annual population survey) across a three decade period  to review what they can tell us about the persistence of long term and widespread shortages of highly skilled STEM graduates.

Education, inequality and institutions: evidence from international assessments 1995-2015 (Public Seminar)

05 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Dr Robin Shields, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Maia Chankseliani, Centre for Comparative and International Education Research

This seminar will present recent research the relationship between economic inequality and educational achievement as measured by large scale assessments. We begin by identifying a debate within the literature between those who advocate a "skills premium" for achievement and those who warn against the harmful consequences of inequality for achievement. We use a more extensive empirical dataset and more robust statistical models to show that the relationship between achievement and inequality is moderated by income: in other words, the relationship is different in high-income and low-income countries. The former demonstrates a relationship consistent with the “skills premium” literature, while the latter suggest that inequality has negative consequences for achievement. We then evaluate possible models of the causal relationships involved, looking at varieties of capitalism and capabilities as two alternative explanatory frameworks.

Robin Shields' research investigates global trends in education, with a focus on the application of new or innovative quantitative methodologies. Recently, he has published on international trends in higher education such as flows of international students and communication networks on social media. He is particularly interested in the application of multi-level statistical models, and the statistical analysis of social networks. He has undertaken research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, and the Higher Education Academy. In 2014, Robin received the George Bereday award for the most outstanding article in the Comparative Education Review, and he currently serves as co-editor of the journal. He is Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath and Director of the Doctoral Programme in Higher Education Management.

Ethical complexities of classroom and professional life: the case of gossip

06 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Patricia White, UCL Institute of Education

Conveners: Alis Oancea, Liam Gearon and Lorraine Foreman-Peck , Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

This paper examines the claim that gossip is damaging to individuals and disruptive to the ethical life of educational institutions.

A rough delineation of gossip and small talk is offered and the suggestion is advanced that gossip, in its disrespect for the lives and experiences of other people, strikes at the heart of moral life: for this reason, it should be avoided by individuals and proscribed by professional codes of conduct.

In the rest of the paper a discussion of five examples suggests that rather than a blanket prohibition a nuanced approach to gossip is more beneficial for the ethical life of an educational institution. The five examples move the discussion away from black and white certainties to highlight the ethical grey areas in which teachers must operate daily. In this way, the immediate topic of this paper, gossip, works as a lens to focus on its underlying concern, the ethical complexities of a teacher’s professional life.

Patricia White is an Honorary Senior Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Education.

She is a former Chair of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, an Honorary Vice President of the Society and a member of the Editorial Board of the Society’s journal, The Journal of Philosophy of Education.

Her publications include Beyond Domination: an essay in the political philosophy of education (Routledge, 1983); Civic Virtues and Public Schooling: educating citizens for a democratic society, (Teachers College Press, 1996) and a four-volume international collection of work in philosophy of education, Philosophy of Education: Themes in the Analytic Tradition, (Routledge, 1998) co-edited with Paul Hirst. She has written many papers on ethical and political aspects of philosophy of education. Most recently she has co-edited a Virtual Special Issue of The Journal of Philosophy of Education, which celebrates and opens up the archive of work in Philosophy of Education contained in the first 50 volumes of the Journal.

Transitions between school design/practices

07 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speakers: Professor Harry Daniels and Hau Ming-Tse, Department of Education

Conveners: Dr Ian Thompson and Professor Harry Daniels, Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research (OSAT)

The ethnographer as English teacher: reflections on anthropological fieldwork with young North Koreans in Seoul [PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE]

08 June 2017 12:45 - 14:00
Seminar Room B

Speaker: Jenny Hough, Department of Anthropology

Conveners: Dr Velda Elliott Qualitative Methods Hub

South Korea is a context where proficiency in English carries both practical and symbolic value, serving as a marker of class and associated with social mobility and cosmopolitanism (Park & Abelmann 2004).  In this presentation, I critically reflect on 21 months of ethnographic fieldwork with young North Koreans in Seoul, who frequently interacted with me as an English teacher or conversation partner.  In considering how my position structured our relationships, I draw attention to issues of power, including the question of the role that English played in an ongoing educational campaign which sought to modernise North Koreans as a precondition to their acceptance by South Korean society.

Controlling bias in both constructed-response and multiple-choice items when analysed with the dichotomous Rasch model

12 June 2017 12:30 - 13:45
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor David Andrich, University of Western Australia

Conveners: Professor Steve Strand, Dr Lars-Erik Malmberg and Dr Daniel Caro, Quantitative Methods Hub

Even though guessing biases difficulty estimates as a function of item difficulty in the dichotomous Rasch model, assessment programs with tests which include multiple-choice items often construct scales using this model. Research has shown that when all items are multiple-choice, this bias can largely be eliminated. However, many assessments have a combination of multiple-choice and constructed-response items. Using vertically scaled numeracy assessments from a large scale assessment program, this paper shows that eliminating the bias on estimates of the multiple-choice items also impacts on the difficulty estimates of the constructed response items. This implies that the original estimates of the constructed-response items were biased by the guessing on the multiple choice items. This bias has implications for both defining difficulties in item banks for use in adaptive testing composed of both multiple-choice and constructed-response items, and for the construction of proficiency scales.

Assessing practical work in science - a panel discussion (Public Seminar)

12 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Judith Hillier, Subject Pedagogy Research Group

This public seminar will be given by a panel comprising representatives from the three awarding bodies for A-levels and GCSEs in England: OCR, AQA and Edexcel, together with Heads of Science from two local schools, and representatives from the University of Oxford Department of Education.

Each member of the panel will give their perspective on the following:

  • the challenges of assessing practical work
  • the opportunities afforded by the current system and some of the remaining difficulties
  • how they would choose to assess practical work, and indeed assess science in general, if they could design an assessment system from scratch.

This seminar arose from discussions at the Royal Society educational research conference on Assessing experimental science in 11-18 education October 2016, and will endeavour to engage with some of the principles and intellectual challenges of assessment, as well as the pragmatics.

Getting involved with The Sopranos: television series as medium for self-reflection

13 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Markus Rieger-Ladich, University of Tübingen, Germany

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon, Professor Alis Oancea and Lorraine Foreman-Peck, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

Television series can become a medium of self-reflection. Shows like The Sopranos can function as a mirror of our inner self. They confront us with inconvenient observations and painful discoveries. They know things about us that we didn’t want to know which gives them the potential to work against our self-betrayal. They raise the issue of the human condition. They open up spaces of self-reflection – and confront us with abysses of human existence. They reveal our worst possibilities. They depict human beings as ambivalent creatures that are capable of anything.

Using The Sopranos as an example, I will argue that these characteristics make television series a subject of educational studies and a suitable medium for philosophy of education.

Professor Markus Rieger-Ladich holds the chair for philosophy of education and is director of the Institute of Educational Studies at University of Tübingen, Germany. In his research he is interested in critical theories of education and post-modern aesthetics, especially contemporary novels, television series and architecture.

‘Meta-ethnography’: an approach to interpretative synthesis

15 June 2017 12:45 - 14:00
Seminar Room B

Speaker: Dr Sonali Nag, Department of Education

Conveners: Dr Velda Elliott Qualitative Methods Hub

Since 2013, a team of researchers have been attempting an interpretative synthesis of ethnographies conducted in schools, homes or communities of children in low- and middle-income countries.  The outputs from this effort provide a rich description of the contexts within which children’s learning develops, and prompt an elaboration of the circumstances that shape trajectories of children’s learning.  In this presentation I will show the methodology we followed starting with our approach to literature search, the quality appraisal of individual studies and the development of a synthesis framework. I will then show how we ‘put together’ information using two examples: the first focuses on classroom practices around language and literacy learning1 and the second on home environments2.  In both syntheses we juxtapose a socio-cultural perspective and a psycholinguistic framework to examine the underpinnings of literacy and foundation learning.

  • 1Sonali Nag, Margaret J. Snowling & Yonas Mesfun Asfaha (2016), Classroom literacy practices in low- and middle-income countries: an interpretative synthesis of ethnographic studies, Oxford Review of Education, 42:1, 36-54, DOI:  10.1080/03054985.2015.1135115)
  • 2Sonali Nag, Shaher Banu Vagh, Monica Melby-Lervag & Margaret J. Snowling (in preparation), Home Language and Literacy Environments in low- and middle-income countries.

Value learning trajectories: negotiations on values and memberships

20 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Arniika Kuusisto, University of Helsinki

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

This paper introduces an interdisciplinary examination on value learning trajectories, presenting personal experiences on value learning and value negotiations from various research projects.

The data cover a variety of perspectives to value collisions between personal and social norms and expectations, often closely connected to shared values and thereby the external and internal definitions of memberships and belonging. The critical battle, then, often comes down to one's personal agency and the resilience of individual values when facing pressures for adjusting these.

Besides providing examples on children's and youth's negotiations on values and memberships, the presented data includes examples of value negotiations related to educators' professional trajectories.

The methodological approach derives from mixed methods design combining quantitative and qualitative methods.

English Medium Instruction: building bridges for a better understanding

22 June 2017 -

The professional learning of mathematics teacher educators

22 June 2017 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room D

Speakers: Dr Nick Andrews, Charlotte Cooper, Claire Morse, Clare Tope and Amanda Wilkinson

Convener: Dr Gabriel Stylianides, Subject Pedagogy Research Group

This seminar will focus on the professional learning of four mathematics teacher educators who are approaching the end of their second and final year of a part-time MSc in Teacher Education at the Department of Education in Oxford. The opportunities for professional learning afforded by the course will be introduced by Nick Andrews, the course leader. The teacher educators will then each present an overview of the research and development studies with which they have been engaged, and which are now drawing to a conclusion. These will be works in progress, but they offer an interesting mix of studies covering both primary and secondary phases, and working with either in-service mathematics teachers or pre-service undergraduate or postgraduate teachers. Together they give a sense of the scope of what we refer to after Shulman as the knowledge base of mathematics teacher educators and how this is distinct from the knowledge base of mathematics teachers.

Oxford Teachers Early Career Development Conference 2017

24 June 2017 -
St Anne’s College