International NAFOL seminar
Post EARLI conference, Limassol Cyprus, Ajax Hotel
As a follow up of the large EARLI (European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference in Limassol, Cyprus, NAFOL organized a post-conference seminar for international PhD students and their supervisors. The main topic of the seminar was Assessment for learning.
8 PhD students and 6 professors participated in the seminar, and the participants came from 8 different countries; Switzerland, Israel, Tanzania, Colombia, Germany, Bahrain, Spain and Norway. Two NAFOL students, Tanja Walle from cohort 5, and Øystein Kvinge from cohort 6, represented Norway and NAFOL. Tony Burner from cohort 3 was supposed to attend, but had, unfortunately, to cancel.
The seminar was planned in the true NAFOL spirit which allowed the students to present their projects in a non-threatening context (unlike the main conference), and they received critical, yet constructive, feedback from peer students and the professors. For some of the students it was the first time they had presented their project in this way, and it was noticeable how the tension was reduced throughout the seminar. A typical Mediterranean dinner Saturday evening became a social success, and the German professor whose birthday was celebrated in six different languages (birthday song) is, as all of us, probably likely to remember the event.
Once again the differences between academic cultures and research paradigms were striking. The quantitative researchers did, in the beginning, not understand why the Norwegians especially, asked why-questions and about the theoretical foundation for their project, whereas others were lost when detailed explanations about complex statistical analyses were presented. The differences initiated deep and genuine dialogues between the participants, who enthusiastically said that the discussions made them think outside their academic ‘box’.
One of NAFOL’s main aims is to be internationally active and to enable our Norwegian PhD students to meet other academic cultures and create international networks. This seminar is one, of several NAFOL initiatives, to reach our aim.
Professor Kari Smith
Academic Head of NAFOL