Call for Papers > Call for Papers


 2nd SFERE-Provence conference 
Learning, strategies and educational policies.
What interdisciplinarity, methodologies and international perspectives?
30 and 31 March 2021
Inspé - Campus Étoile -
52 Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen - 13013 Marseille - France

This conference is supported by the Innovation, Research and Education Cluster of Aix-Marseille (Pôle d'Innovation, de Recherche, d'Enseignement pour l'Education d'Aix-Marseille-AMPIRIC) funded by the French government under the third Investments for the Future Initiative (P.I.A. 3). This project of the Federative Structure of Education Studies and Research of Provence (SFERE-Provence) aims to improve school performances, especially for pupils with learning difficulties, by developing, experimenting and disseminating innovative pedagogical approaches through networking between research, training and teaching activities. The objective of this biannual conference is to strengthen cross-disciplinary perspectives in order to develop knowledge in the fields of learning as well as on organizations and institutional systems concerned with training and education.

This second edition invites scientists to analyse the conditions for school success through new challenges facing research in education, in particular research on policies and strategies regarding education. Education policies are the subject of many debates in France, but also in Europe, in the context of the implementation of European benchmarks for Education and Training (on which the different countries are evaluated and compared). The latest PISA data once again questions the capacity of the French education system to take into account pupils’ diversity, and highlights the importance of the learning environment. Today, a new debate, associated with to the globalization concept, is has begun and shows consequences for issues concerning education (Delvaux et al., 2015). The underlying question concerns the relevance of the nation-state as a decision-making arena in education, in a context of multiplication of power levels between the local and the global stakeholders. Within the European area, the process of globalization is coupled with a completely original project of economic and political integration. Although not legally binding, the adoption of a whole range of Community acts (decisions, recommendations, resolutions, etc.) have a direct or indirect bearing on the affairs regarding education in the Member States. This is not contradictory with the sovereignty of each Member State which seems more to be used to build discourse of national legitimization than to formulate alternative policies (Nóvoa, 1998).

In this conference, education policies can be understood in the broadest sense and refer as much to supranational strategies as to national, regional and local policies, as well as to strategies and choices of various actors in the education system (academic actors, institutions, educational teams, families or even pupils). Questions of strategy and choice also refer to the development of teaching professions in specific organizational contexts where a localized appropriation of public policies is defined.

Policies and strategies concerning education refer to complex and multidimensional processes.  This conference thus pays particular attention to issues of interdisciplinary research. Cross-disciplinary perspectives in the field of education are closely linked to methodological and epistemological issues. Moreover, the controversy surrounding different methods of objectification can lead to a debate on strategies for integrating quantitative and qualitative data, such as complementarity, combination and triangulation (Anadón, 2019). Such a debate implies a paradigmatic emergence (Bal and Trainor, 2016) where theoretical statements in the field of education can be discussed at the boundaries of the various methodologies and disciplines.

Education policies and strategies, as well as the methodological and interdisciplinary challenges related to these issues, are analysed through the following four themes.

Theme 1: Contributions, limitations and new challenges of educational research on fundamental learning.
Aline Frey (LNC, AMU) ; Jean-Luc Velay (LNC, AMU) ; Johannes Ziegler (LPC, AMU)

Reading, writing and maths form the basis of fundamental learning, the mastery of which largely determines success at school. Successful teaching of these basic skills is therefore essential. Reading, writing and maths are complex activities that mobilize a large amount of knowledge and cognitive skills. What are the recent contributions of various disciplines (Education Science, Sociology and Psychology of Education, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience...) in the field of learning and teaching these fundamental skills? How can we create the conditions for the emergence of interdisciplinary research in these fields, articulating often distant theoretical concepts, so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts?

Indeed, a scientific approach to education that proposes to base educational practices on the results of experimental research implies taking up a certain number of challenges (Rey, 2014). How can a rigorous experimental protocol be implemented, while respecting the 'ecological' context of the learning situation, which differs greatly from laboratory conditions? How can a "quantitative" approach, which is a priori the most appropriate for obtaining objective results from a circumscribed experimental situation, take into account the school context in all its richness and diversity (socio-cultural level, interpersonal and social interactions, affective context, etc.)? What are the spatial (classroom, school, academy...) and temporal (weeks, months, years...) dimensions relevant to assess the validity of the results of an experimental study on fundamental learning skills? Similarly, how do research projects, such as research and development, action research, and "non-experimental" case studies, take these spatial and temporal dimensions into account in their evaluative and transformative aims for fundamental learning situations?

Finally, digital tools greatly modify the learning and teaching of basic knowledge. Are these new tools merely means of facilitating or accelerating learning without affecting the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of knowledge or, on the contrary, do they profoundly transform the nature of these processes? How can educational teams play a role in the transformation of these fundamental learning processes fashioned by digital technology?

Examples of themes:

  • Research on fundamental processes in learning and school success
  • Methodologies for school-based research: learning situations and contexts, experimental protocols, other protocols, spatial and temporal dimensions of studies...,
  • Impact of digital technology on knowledge acquisition and the transformation of cognitive processes


Theme 2 : Allying international education strategies and national and local policies against inequalities: what are stakeholders saying?
Amélie Leconte (LPL, AMU), Gwenaëlle Audren (TELEMME, AMU), Noémie Olympio (LEST, AMU)

The PISA results call for both the fight against early school failure and the need to build a genuinely common core curriculum, where ideally the social diversity of the country should be represented in each school. Indeed, the French education system continues to be characterized by pupils' academic performance that is clearly marked by their family environment, a sign that the various policies at work in recent years have failed to reduce inequalities.

Beyond the effects of the family context, this issue must be placed in a spatialized approach, since the territory plays an important role in pupils' schooling conditions (differences can be observed between urban and rural areas, and even at the intra-urban level between city districts), which ultimately affect their performance and their educational trajectories (CNESCO, 2018). In France, the territorialisation of certain education policies (priority education policy, or the 'school map' model for assigning pupils) aims to reduce inequalities between pupils by allocating more resources to certain schools or by promoting social diversity within them. Despite these objectives, it seems that these policies have ambivalent and limited effects on the reduction of inequalities in the education system (Ben Ayed et al., 2013; Garrouste & Prost, 2016; Merle, 2012).

Reflection on these territorialised education policies inevitably leads us to consider inequalities in the education system in relation to the mastery of the school language, the management of plurilingualism and multiculturalism and questions the social, linguistic and cultural representations of territories that have sometimes become veritable "school ghettos" (Felouzis, 2014). The link between social inequalities, inequalities in education, language, and language use has been established for a long time now, and the question of how the various education systems deal with pupils' language difficulties is not new (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1970; Bourdieu, 1982; Hornberger, 2003; Porcher, 2014). In recent years, many governments have, to varying degrees, expressed concern in their school language policies to provide responses, particularly in response to the recognition of the difficulties teachers face in managing the linguistic and cultural diversity of a renewed school population. In France, for example, the 2012 circular (Circular No. 2012-141 of 2-10-2012) organizing the schooling of newly arrived allophone pupils constitutes a significant turning point by introducing the concept of allophonie as part of the fight against educational inequalities in the education system. The effects of this policy are still little studied, but recent publications insist on a "failing francophonie" that is now being pointed at, reinforcing the emergence of new forms of school segregation (Armagnague, Tersigni, 2019). The emergence of the figure of the allophone student as a category reveals the importance of language proficiency as a factor in school relegation. However, it goes far beyond the issue of schooling for migrant children, by questioning our current school language policies, our relationship to otherness, the linguistic norm and variation and its consequences in terms of the creation of school inequalities (El Karouni, 2017).

Once again, these observations put into perspective the fact that the question of inequalities refers to complex, dynamic and multi-level issues. This axis aims to highlight what education policies do to inequalities but also, in return, in what ways inequalities could influence the orientation of education policies.

Education policies include a certain number of actors, so it is a matter of questioning them in a broad sense and from a resolutely interdisciplinary perspective: European strategies, national policies, their local translations (regional level, academia, etc.) but also their translations at the level of educational institutions and teams. Thus, how does a national policy act on inequalities? What strategies and priorities do the actors of the education system adopt when dealing with vulnerable groups (allophone pupils, pupils in a situation of school disaffiliation, pupils in a situation where they are subject to guidance, etc.)? How does this articulation between public policies and localized education strategies differ from one country to another?

Examples of themes:

  • Socio-historical specificities of education policies and international comparisons
  • Inequalities and orientation of education policies
  • Spatialized approaches to inequalities and education policies
  • National, regional and local language education policies
  • Consequences of inequalities on language proficiency and learning

Theme 3 : Governance of innovation, transformation of pedagogy and teacher creativity
Valérie Caraguel (LEST, AMU), Martine Gadille (LEST, AMU), Eric Tortochot (ADEF, AMU), Nataly Essonnier (DiMage, University of Geneva)

The concept of governance emphasizes an operational aim of public policy through the mediation of autonomous actors in localized processes of intra- and inter-organizational rule negotiation (Sørensen and Torfing, 2017). In the field of education, these mediations would lead to the construction of new interactions fostering innovation, in a context of sustained reforms. On the one hand, education policies aim at innovation of pedagogy, i.e. new ways of teaching and learning, able to integrate the opportunities offered by technological, scientific and informational developments (Tricot, 2016). However, this set of innovations in pedagogy is much slower than the expectations of the legislator. Moreover, research work is still awaited to explain how the same education policy can have such heterogeneous appropriations within an institution, from one institution to another or from one education network to another within the same academic territory (Augy et al., 2016; Fassa-Recrosio & Bataille, 2019). The notion of innovation can also be mobilized to go beyond its confinement to the transformation of rules of interaction in the classroom. The notions of collective learning (Rebetez, 2018) and learning territory (Ben Ayed, 2018), within a policy of results and empowerment in favour of organized action (Maroy, 2017), could be questioned in order to understand how new modes of pedagogical management in schools, their networks and territories are constructed or not.

Such approaches could strengthen the debate on how to create organizational and collective room to get flexibility for the transformation of professional skills in localized educational arrangements and in compromises. These approaches could also critically engage with theories of creativity emphasizing the role of the environment in relation to individual motivations (Amabile & Khaire, 2008; Stenberg, 2006), to study the creativity of educational teams, as well as that of students, especially those who re-engage in learning through creative gestures. The interest of these theories is to establish even if some people have creative skills, they cannot always express them according to the environment in which they work, while others may have creative attitudes without the skills to take advantage of this potential. As such, Glăveanu (2017) emphasizes the dialogical dimension of creativity in social interactions between individuals within concrete and constrained institutions or material contexts. Furthermore, the analysis of collaborative design of innovative learning materials highlights that social creativity is fostered or hindered by certain choices related to the nature of the collective of designers through the expertise of its members, its work organization and the complementarity of the knowledge at stake (Daskolia, 2015; Essonnier 2018).

This line of action invites us to take a closer look at how education policies enable or hinder schools and their networks to support teachers’ and students’ creativity with the risk-taking and skills-building it implies. This question of creativity is raised, for instance, when speaking of developing students' autonomy based on their ability to interact with contexts, systems and structures, by making the most of the knowledge they have acquired.

Finally, can we restrain creativity to a decision based on the investment in the profitability of ideas? Would it not be equally relevant to consider social creativity as a result and a motor of transformation of the organization of work in a sociocultural and sociotechnical perspective where this notion can be an unintended result with no other aim than to give meaning to one's profession?

Examples of themes :

  • The didactic and pedagogical challenges of digital education and the relationship to the instruments and prescriptions of public policy
  • The governance of innovation in networks of institutions as a mediator of the appropriation of public education policies
  • Creativity in teaching-learning devices (the place of creativity in didactic reflections: the creative activity of teachers)
  • The devaluation or strengthening of the teaching profession and the place of creativity in these processes.
  • The teacher's creative gesture and its influence on engagement and student retention.


Theme 4 : Teachers’ and researchers’ collaborative or participatory research: what are the stance and skills of the researcher, and what contribution to education policies?
Caroline Vincent (LEST, AMU), Gilles Aldon (EductTice, Lyon), Maria Antonietta Impedovo (ADEF, AMU)

The general objective is to debate and introduce the methodological approaches of participatory research between researchers and between researchers and teachers, to support a collaborative dynamic whose objective would be to promote both a better understanding of the phenomena studied and the emergence of concepts useful to mutual understanding for all actors.

The work of teachers is intensifying and becoming more complex (Maroy, 2006), particularly in connection with the evolution of student demographics and the growing demand in education policies. Research paradigms involving different social worlds (Wenger, 2000) rely on epistemological, ethical and methodological assumptions to achieve the goal of understanding complex phenomena that cannot be analysed without diverse theoretical, pragmatic and analytical inputs. It is this diversity that can be questioned in order to highlight the contributions of such research paradigms to the research itself and its effects.

Moreover, there are different methodologies to interact with different modalities of cooperation between teachers and researchers. The following are examples of methodologies and methods that will be critically addressed when exploring their potentials and limitations:

- Participatory Action Research. Participatory action research - as implemented and analysed by authors such as Maguire (1987), Brydon-Miller & Maguire (2009) and McIntyre (2008) - mobilizes participatory and collaborative processes in a critical and practice change perspective within urban, ethnic, professional communities targeting strong crisis or problematic situations.

- Collaborative research. Beyond the comprehensive aim of didactic and pedagogical determinants within reflective spaces, collaborative research is part of a transformative aim. The reconfigured situations can then take place in initial or in-service teacher training systems (Marlot et al., 2017).

- Design Based Research: This methodological research paradigm has grown within the educational research community (Edelson, 2002; Wang & Hannafin, 2005; Swan, 2014). As a result, while it leads to results that make it possible to explain and predict learning in very confined situations, it does not make it possible to guide transformations in educational practices on a larger scale on basis of shared meanings (Basque, 2015; Brown, 1992).

- Given the diversity of the methodologies and methods concerned, critical reflection could improve collective knowledge on this subject, on which few exchanges have taken place more transversally.

Examples of topics

  • Contributions and challenges of collaborative, participatory or design-oriented research methodologies
  • Issues of Interdisciplinarity in Collaborative, Participatory or Design Oriented Research
  • Comparison and/or combination of different research methodologies from the point of view of objects and socio-institutional contexts
  • Training, transformation of skills and organisation in teaching teams and in research based on these methodologies.


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This 2nd SFERE colloquium will be published, on the base of twenty selected papers, in the form of a collective book at the Presses Universitaires de Provence, as is the case with the 1st SFERE colloquium held in 2018 and whose editorial work is nearing completion.

Proposal deadline: July 31, 2020



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