The best of this year's BESA

The best of this year's BESA

One of our principal researchers, Jackie, shares some of her favourite presentations from this year's BESA conference, including introducing sex education in Saudi Arabian schools and the effects of collaborative manual labour as a learning tool.

I recently attended the 13th annual conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA) at Liverpool Hope University, where I presented work about using taxonomies of educational objectives in research frequently undertaken by awarding bodies.

At the conference, delegates' enthusiasm was shown by the good number of members applying to be on the executive board to continue building the organisation. The friendly and supportive atmosphere facilitated networking and collaboration.

There were up to 70 presentations:

Three keynotes, plus parallel sessions;

Seven papers about assessment;

Eight papers related to curriculum;

Four papers focusing on an education issue overseas.

There were many thought provoking and revealing sessions, but the following speakers stood out for me...

Amal Banunnah (University of Sheffield) presented her research about the possibility of introducing sex education into the pre-school curriculum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was inspiring as her work could have a massive positive impact.

Matthew Carlin and Lars Bang (Manchester Metropolitan University) led a symposium called "Learning through collaborative manual labour in schools." They showed that collaborative manual labour as a school class activity opens opportunities for collaborative and creative working in increasingly immaterial classrooms. Delegates discussed examples such as students doing science practicals (actually doing them with apparatus not using work sheets about how to do it and then analysing data from someone else's experiment).

This resonates with current issues in education. There is talk of a need to enhance the employability and technical skills in the UK, which can include working collaboratively and using psychomotor skills to control instruments.

Presenters at the conference are invited to submit papers to the association's open access journal Educational Futures. I and my co-authors will be submitting our paper about using taxonomies of educational objectives. Look out for updates!

Jackie Greatorex
Principal Research Officer, Cambridge Assessment

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