SIG 25 NEWSLETTER - 3/2019


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Dear members of SIG25 - Educational Theory,

This is the third issue of our renewed newsletter. This is the first newsletter after the new coordinating group has officially taken charge. It is now composed by Nina Bonderup Dohn and Antti Rajala as coordinators, and Alexandra Nordström as JURE coordinator. Giuseppe Ritella will continue to actively cooperate with the SIG by editing this newsletter.

Firstly, in EARLI 2019 conference in Aachen, SIG 25 hosted an invited symposium, titled: How can peer reviewing be made fair for all theoretical frameworks in EARLI and beyond? The symposium took the form of a panel of five journal editors and two expert commentaries. To continue the discussion, we invited the panelists, commentators and two members of the audience to share their reflections on the topic of the symposium. We hope these contributions will provoke ideas and open discussion about practices of peer reviewing.

Secondly, we introduce two thought-provoking interviews that Tina Kullenberg has carried out with Roger Säljö and Eva Vass. These are part of the SIG 25 Interview Series entitled:  THE ROLE OF THEORY AND PHILOSOPHY IN EDUCATIONAL SCIENCE. Soon we will also post the full text on our social media and invite the community to discuss the issues addressed in each interview.

Finally, you fill find a section containing news and announcements that have been shared by SIG members.


Best Wishes,

Alexandra, Antti, Nina & Giuseppe

Reflections on peer review

As follows, you will find five brief commentaries of the panelists and commentators that we collected after our symposium, which generated a very lively discussion around an issue that is perceived as crucial by many of us. We asked to each panelist to answer the two following questions;

  • What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel?
  • What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field?

In addition, two audience members who attended the symposium provided their general reflections on the event. They are reported after the panelists' and commentators' contributions.

We will publish these commentaries soon also on our social media in order to continue the discussion with you.

In the picture below, you will see on the left the group of panelists and commentators during the symposium; on the right the audience members who sent their reflections on the event.  


symposium pictures


Crina Damsa, Panelist, University of Oslo, Associate Editor of Frontline Learning Research

What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel?

I claim that paradigmatic fragmentation dominates the field of educational research and the way journals operate and engage with submitted scholarship. In an era when educational research has the opportunity to employ diverse (technology-enhanced) methodologies that allow expanding the boundaries of our empirical investigation and facilitate conceptual development, the actual response is still, paradoxically, tendency to remain within historically established paradigmatic boundaries. Such fragmentation is often perpetuated by review practices and communities, which adhere to rigid criteria under the argument of ensuring quality. 

What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field?

I propose to problematize the work of editors and reviewers, who hold a key position in framing the published scholarship, but especially the ways and means we address the potential for bridging paradigmatic differences that may hinder conceptual advancement and methodological renewal. 
I recognize the challenge to engage in a constructive review process that provides opportunities to display valuable work, without adhering to strict paradigmatic positioning. I therefore, suggest, initiating an open dialog on the potential of cross-paradigmatic linkages and methodological multidisciplinarity for advancing our scholarship and review practices.


Lars Erik Malmberg, Panelist, University of Oxford, Editor in Chief of Learning & Instruction

What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel?
All scientific production rests on conceptual clarity, and precise use of language for communicating clear ideas. All empirical research needs good quality data. Journals are constantly raising the bar for quality assurance of data handling and creation of units of analysis (e.g., quantitative variables, categories of content analysis). Increased calls for openness and transparency are heard. Quality assurance for “quantitative methodologies” is relatively well established. When a “qualitative” methodology is used, there should be a sufficient procedural explanation to ascertain whether the standards for "validity" and "reliability" (or their many equivalent concepts for qualitative research, e.g., credibility, transferability, authenticity, dependability, confirmability, etc) of the reported data are established.
What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field?
Findings and keeping good reviewers, who are attuned to current quality assurance criteria is perhaps the biggest challenge of journals today. Competing demands on academics’ time is huge. Journals need to find ways of keeping up-and-coming excellent reviewers in their books (e.g., invite to become editorial board members) and maintain relationships with existing reviewers. It is fortunate that we have forums like the EARLI (and indeed other) conferences where academics can keep up with the current state-of-affairs also for areas outside of their immediate expertise.


Roger Säljö, Panelist, University of Gothenburg, Co-Editor of Learning Culture and Social Interaction

What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel?

Peer review is an important part of the production of knowledge. However, at present the peer review system is under pressure.. There is simply too much research and too many manuscripts produced, and the number of qualified reviewers does not grow in proportional terms. Having said this, it is important to keep up the quality of reviewing. Learning how to review manuscripts is an important and generative skill that every young scholar must learn, at least during their postdoc period, if not earlier. Providing good feedback that helps colleagues to see their own research from a slightly different perspective is an important part of being involved in a community.

What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field?

Reviewers should be given more credit for their work, and researchers should be able to count review work as part of their work load (within reason, of course). Training how do reviews should also be an explicit part of research training. It is a good and concrete way to learn about how research is carried out, and what characterizes quality in research.


Riikka Hohti, Commentator, University of Helsinki

What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel?
In my comment, I wanted to probe the idea of peer review as a matter of care. Following feminist scholar Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, care can be seen as a provocation, a question or an analytic that directs us to notice complexity and tensions embedded in situations. In relation to peer review, this approach would emphasise the diversity of situations in their specific detail rather than give general guidelines. It would emphasise that knowledge projects such as scientific publishing always come accompanied with affective and ethico-political aspects, as well as aspects of labour, and that all these should be taken into account, even if they could not solved once and for all.  
What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field?
The neoliberal affective climate pushes us all to produce more in less time. Attending to situations of publishing processes with care would acknowledge complexities but insist in keeping questions of affective atmosphere, labour and ethics/politics on the table. If citations and publications continue to be the currency we live by in Anglocentric academy, we need  
-       just (feminist) citational practices regarding race etc. – careful reading
-       support for scholars writing in English as a second language 
-       resisting the logic of growth and “more” as primary goals
-       relational and dialogic practices to cherish quality and generate ideas


Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Commentator, University of Jönköping

What was the main thesis or claim about peer review in your prepared contribution to the panel? 
Democratic-equity and quality issues constitute dimensions of knowledge circulations enabled through “international” publications. There, thus, exists a critical need to “disturb naturalizations” regarding publishing routines by making visible the continuing paucity of global-North/South dialogues in the educational and human sciences. For instance, it is important to ask what epistemologies are being made (in)visible, what continents dominate the “international” publishing landscape – both in terms of who and what is referenced but also in terms of who gets published and where. Decolonial or Southern Perspectives call attention to uncomfortable and revised analytical issues that potentially destabilize “naturalized” North-centric epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies.
What should be done to address the challenges raised during the panel and to improve the practices of reviewing in our field? 

Contemporary hegemonies related to knowledge production, including publication practices need to be interrogated. Recognizing the dialogical functions of publishing, rather than focusing scholars career pathways, is important. Another significant way North-centric hegemonies can be challenged is by addressing Anglo-Saxon publishing traditions of (i) the mono-modal “written language bias” and, (ii) a mono-lingual English publishing bias. Opening for multimodal publishing (using digital tools) and in multiple languages (e.g. abstracts and papers) needs to be considered. Raising awareness regarding the skewed nature of publication routines (in postgraduate studies, in-house education of editorial teams) and re-vamping editorial boards too need to be considered.


Mikko Kainulainen, Audience member, JURE Coordinator of SIG 3, University of Turku

The panel was a really interesting and multiperspectival take on peer review. Important points were brough about things such as care for researchers and reviewers as well as the different kinds of review processes that could allow more possibilities for publishing. After hearing the many commentaries, a synthesizing thought occurred to me: Perhaps peer review should go back to the original dialectical knowledge formation metaphor already laid out by Socrates, that is, midwifery. As specialized nurses, their profession is located in between care and medical practice (cf. reviewer’s work as combination of care and scientific expertise). They help the mother (author) give birth to the child (new research), during which they also collaborate with doctors (editors) and sometimes the rest of the family (co-authors). Deliveries take varying amounts of time and effort. There are many different methods of labor, some of which work better with some deliveries than others. But the overarching aim is to deliver the child safely while keeping everyone alive and well, and to give the newborn a chance at life with their parent(s).


Sanaz Farhangi, Audience member, Member of SIG 25, Florida International University

The main question of the panel was very relatable to me coming from a perspective that is not well represented in today’s educational research. However, the panel really expanded my view, showing me how our theoretical views are seeped through our judgements in every step of the publication process. The panelist thoughtful presentation of their respective journals’ practices reveals how things are done but also how many possibilities there are for deep conversations.The most interesting points raised for me were Dr. Sageeta Bagga-Gupta’s about the necessity of decolonizing academic publishing and attending to hegemony of English.  




Interview with Roger Säljö: Rethinking the fabric of education in theory and practice: beyond the conception of outcome-based learning and teaching

Link to the full text of the interview

In this discussion, Roger Säljö turns to the educational scholar’s role in our current times where schooling tends to be dictated by narrow political goals and normative concepts that urge the field to consider both theoretical and practice-oriented implications carefully. In doing so, he points at interrelated consequences, seeking to problematize existing views on education. For example, children’s and other students’ need of engaging in sense-making in schooling, beyond the predominant outcome-based learning discourse that problematically overlooks non-measurable and more open-ended knowledge forms and values of being educated. In his eyes, educational theory is too often neglected, but indeed has a significant potential to contribute with a deeper picture, combined with a substantiated empirical body of research as well.


Tina Kullenberg



Interview with Eva Vass: ‘Thinking from presence’ in learning, teaching and research

Link to the full text of the interview

In this conversation we explore Eva Vass’s scholarship towards re-imagining learning and teaching (and therefore theorising and research on these) as an interdisciplinary, embodied, creative, receptive-responsive dialogue. Eva’s research approach in this spirit is experimenting with the understandings of “Natural Inclusionality” (Rayner, 2017), a refreshing take on the scientific study of nature. In this interview Eva discusses her attempts to establish a research trajectory which can signify and illustrate the shift towards substantive, lived, receptive-responsive dialogue in various dimensions of educational inquiry and practice.


Tina Kullenberg


Announcements by SIG members

Events & Call for papers


Jean Piaget Symposium


In 2020, the Jean Piaget Society will hold its Symposium in Philadelphia (USA) on May-28-30. 2020Links:

- Symposium:

- Call for papers

The general theme of the main events is Constructivism but, as always,  submissions are welcomed on any topic in developmental science!

on behalf of Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont




Designing for situated knowledge transformation


On the 13th of January, 2020, The Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark will host a one day conference on the theme Designing for situated knowledge transformation. 

The occasion for the conference is the forthcoming publication of the book Designing for situated knowledge transformation (link).  The book concludes a 4-year international research project, Designing for situated knowledge in a world of change. The day will consist of brief presentations of themes in the book by the authors, followed by keynotes and discussions by international  speakers. 

For more information, please contact Stig Børsen Hansen:






Since the advent of writing –the first intellectual technology with which humanity has provided itself – people have discussed the impact of technologies on the development of the faculty that most distinguishes ourselves as a species: Learning. A renewed interest of these discourses has grown up as a consequence of the integration of digital technologies in educational contexts.

Skinner’s Teaching Machines has led more than one to believe that the teaching/learning process could reach new goals if conducted by automatic devices according to programmed patterns. For seventy years this belief has been discredited. However current developments in Artificial Intelligence have brought this issue back to the forefront: are the current Machine Learning, able to replace the human being by transforming the learning process? What are the potentials of the new Machine Learning?

The Conference aims to discuss these issues, supporting face to face and online debates among scholars and practitioners from different perspectives. On one hand, there are people who underline a specific and irreplaceable role of the human relationship in this area. On the other hand, people who highlight the unprecedented possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence inside the process of constructing and sharing knowledge.

A critical analysis of these positions will be the main focus of the conference. In this light, the aim is to support increasing awareness that digital technologies – more or less intelligent – pervade our lives and play an ongoing and important role in educational contexts. Therefore, the debate intends to promote a comparison among different perspectives and experiences based on new technological implementation in formal and informal learning contexts.


On behalf of Maria Beatrice Ligorio






“Designing for situated computational thinking with computational things”

In spring 2020, a four year research project will be initiated at the University of Southern Denmark: “Designing for situated computational thinking with computational things”. The research is funded by a grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark with Nina Bonderup Dohn as the principal investigator and involves two other senior researchers and three junior researchers from Denmark and collaborators in Australia, USA, the Netherlands and Germany. Computational thinking as a movement in education is also reaching the Danish policy makers and education system these years. Building on previous research that combines the development of learning designs with a version of situated learning, the project seeks to develop and test didactic designs for teaching the competences that computational thinking can be seen to imply. One way of taking into account the situated nature of learning will be to develop designs that draw on tangible, computational things that in different ways make modelling and programming concrete. Finally, drawing on value sensitive design and the philosophy of technology, the project explores how the values embodied in technology that surface in educational contexts can come into focus, without necessarily ascribing to the pessimism that has informed much discussion of educational technologies in recent years. 



Job Announcements


PhD position in Oslo

PhD position is now open to work in our project in the area of “scientific literacy for sustainable citizenship” for the next 4 years. Perhaps relevant to you, your students or networks.

A 3-years postdoc position is coming very soon too, both with short deadlines. People can contact Alfredo Jornet (a.j.gil@ils.uio.noif they have questions.

See post here:





Holma, Katariina and  Kontinen, Tiina (eds.) (2019) Practices of Citizenship in East Africa: Perspectives from Philosophical Pragmatism. Oxon: Routledge. 

The book presents findings from a research project "Growth into citizenship in civil society encounters"" (2015-2019) where theoretical ideas of pragmatism and the lived experiences of citizenship in rural areas in Tanzania and Uganda entered into productive dialogue.


Perret-Clermont, A.-N., Schär, R., Greco, S., Convertini, J., Iannaccone, A., & Rocci, A. (2019). Shifting from a monological to a dialogical perspective on children’s argumentation. Lessons learned. In F. H. van Eemren & B. Garssen (Eds.), Argumentation in actual practice. Topical studies about argumentative discourse in context (pp. 211-236): John Benjamins Publishing Company.