Excellent progress for every student

After a pandemic pause in 2020, Research Conference is back. Hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), the theme for 2021 is ‘Excellent progress for every student: What will it take?’ The fully online event runs from 16-20 August and features international researchers from a range of disciplines.

In today’s Q&A, conference organiser and ACER Senior Research Fellow Dr Claire Scoular tells us more about this year’s theme and its focus on providing practical solutions for attendees.

It's great to catch up with you Claire. Can you give Teacher readers an overview of this year’s ACER Research Conference theme?

This year’s theme is ‘Excellent progress for every student: What will it take?’ and we will be approaching this theme from various angles. We will be looking at understandings of the nature of progress, including many examples of evidence-based learning progressions. We’ll also be looking at how targeted instruction can optimise learning. Another focus will be on curriculum structures based on evidence of how essential knowledge, skills and understanding typically develop. We will also be thinking about assessments from the perspectives of long-term learning progress and how data can be used to inform ongoing decision making.

Why has this theme been chosen for Research Conference 2021?

We know that students have differing needs and are at varying points in their learning, and that schools and systems are not always equipped to deal with this, which leads to some students’ learning needs not being met. We want to highlight some evidence-based and practical ways to make sure every student is engaged and making good progress.

Each day features a different Keynote (Professor Dianne Siemon, Professor Mark Wilson, Professor Rich Lehrer and Professor Geoff Masters), and the full program features a further 16 presentations. What do you expect participants to gain from attending the conference?

A key feature every year at our Research Conference is providing attendees with something tangible (resources or materials), or some practical solutions they can take back to their classroom or school. To that end, we have sought out the highest quality researchers who will be presenting evidenced-based research in this area to bring you the very latest thinking in education's big issues.

The big difference this year is that it's an online event. The main conference runs over four days and there’s an optional half-day Masterclass on day five on Learning Progressions – what if teachers and school leaders can't attend every session?

We actually aren’t anticipating attendees to sit through every session across the four days. We are well aware, particularly given this last year, that Zoom fatigue really is a thing! We will record all of the sessions and upload these to our program and access will be provided for a period of time after the conference. So attendees can watch any of the sessions at a time convenient to them. Further to this, we have some conference sub-themes (assessment, pedagogy etc.) which we hope will guide attendees to sessions of most interest to them. All of our speakers are preparing short research papers that will be published as proceedings in time for the conference, to augment the experience of watching live or on demand.

How else can people get involved?

This year we are facilitating an online version of posters called ‘Research Conference Pitch’ where selected attendees present a three minute video of their own research. The pre-recorded videos will be presented in dedicated sessions and in between main conference presentations. There will be a selection process but anyone is welcome to submit an abstract for a pitch that relates to our conference theme. Keep an eye on our website for more information coming soon!

Research Conference 2021 ‘Excellent progress for every student: What will it take’ runs from 16-20 August, and features 20 sessions, four keynote addresses and one intensive Masterclass. Click on the link to explore the full program and register for the event.

Stay tuned: Teacher will be speaking to some of the keynotes and presenters in the lead-up to Research Conference 2021.