MICER17 conference reflections

On Friday 19th May, it was the second annual Methods In Chemistry Education Research conference, held once more at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and run by Michael Seery. Again, the conference was a great opportunity to learn about and discuss the tools, methods, and philosophies used when conducting research into chemistry education. It was particularly great to see an increasing number of chemistry education researchers at the postgraduate level, and there will be a specific satellite meeting for these folks at ViCE/PHEC in August!

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I’ve written up my notes from MICER17 and will post them over the next few days as a series of blogs – but these only reflect what I took from the day; do not read them as accurate summaries or in doing so I shall have worked a deep injustice on each of the presenters, who may otherwise feel on reading these accounts that I have grossly missed the points of their sessions. These summaries will turn into links as I upload each blog piece in turn.

Session 1: Dr Suzanne Fergus
tl;dr: Educational research must flow from a good, narrow, collaboratively-defined research question.

Session 2: Dr Stewart Kirton
tl;dr: Don’t average Likert scale data. Don’t mix positive and negative questions. And don’t ask questions that only have extreme answers!

Session 3: Dr Orla Kelly
tl;dr: Action Research needs to have both Research and Action. Use an appropriate method of data collection, and document your failures!

Session 4: Prof. Graham Scott
tl;dr: There are many more ways to skew interviews than it seems.

Session 5:Prof. Keith Taber
tl;dr: Research ethics are really complex, and all of us bear the dark seeds of utilitarian tyranny, however improbable it seems.

Session 6:Prof. Georgios Tsaparlis
tl;dr: Students have been attempting to solve problems in a non-problem-solving way since before I was born.

Final reflections

MICER17 was once again a fantastic opportunity to swim in a professional community that’s committed to producing rigorous research into educational theory and practice. It reminds me to keep my aspirations high, and not to just settle for being a practitioner who occasionally reads journals – I may have left laboratory research behind in 2015, but the curious itch is as undiminished as ever!

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