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Keynote and Speakers

Our keynote speaker this year is Maria Nikolajeva, Professor of Education. Her most recent book is Reading for Learning: Cognitive Approaches to Children's Literature (2014).

Cognitive-affective approaches to multimodal narratives

In his study of brain laterality, The Master and His Emissary (2008), Iain McGilchrist proposes a hypothesis about historical periods' preference for different art forms and directions as a result of interplay between cultural development and the evolution of the human brain. One of his observations points at the tangible trend toward the dominance of the left cerebral hemisphere over the right one, beginning in the fifteenth century in the Western world, when written language gradually gained supremacy over oral and visual communication. Based partially on McGilchrist's book, Hugh Crago's Entranced by Story (2014) offers a fascinating exposé of readers' engagement with fiction, connected to individual rather than historical brain development, in particular the varying dominance of right or left cerebral hemispheres at different age. A combination of these two approaches has far-reaching consequences for general thinking about multimodality and learning. While we should be cautious about making definite statements before we have reliable experimental research, it is gratifying to speculate how brain laterality potentially affects young learners' preference for visual or verbal narratives; how the cerebral hemispheres process visual and verbal information in different manners; and how multimodal narratives can be used to enhance learners' cognitive and emotional literacy.

Panel Sessions

Everything you wanted to know about educational research…but were afraid much too sensible to ask.

Dr Keith S. Taber
Reader in Science Education
Faculty of Education

• Can a student thesis make an original contribution to public knowledge (if public knowledge does not really exist)?
• Is there a difference between interpretivism and constructivism? (and does it matter anyway?)
• How do dodgy experiments get published in educational journals?
• Can there ever be a replication study in education?
• Do we need a peace and reconciliation commission in the aftermath of the paradigm wars?
• What exactly is being mixed in mixed methods? …

Keith will set up, and pose for your consideration, a number of questions intended to explore commonalities and distinctions in relation to different approaches to educational research.

Warning: Subtext alert! Regardless of how the discussion goes, Keith will try to persuade you that coherence within a research study is more important than labelling the type of research; that a post-positivist stance on educational research encompasses many paths to enlightenment; and that it is more important to locate your research within a research programme than within a paradigm.

Multimodality: how can, and should, classroom researchers take account of it?

Pr. Neil Mercer
Professor of Education
Faculty of Education

This session will take the form of a short (20 minute) introduction, followed by an open discussion.
Most research on the educational interactions which take place in classrooms and similar settings has focused on talk. However, in recent years some researchers have argued that focusing predominantly on the spoken (and written) language of the classroom means that important modes of meaning making which involve non-linguistic features of behaviour and the environment are being ignored. They have gone on to suggest that such features are amenable to systematic analysis, perhaps even to the same extent as language, and should be accorded similar attention. How justified are such claims, and what are the implications of such claims for how research is done? What significance might they have for educational theory, especially for understanding the processes of the joint construction of knowledge?

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