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College of Education > News and Publications > News: July - Sept. 2011 > Associate Dean Speaks at Bi-Annual Conference in France

Associate Dean Speaks at Bi-Annual Conference in France

Greg Kelly, Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Technology, was a plenary speaker at the 9th bi-annual European Science Education Research Association Conference.

By Patrick Beal (September 2011)

Lyon, France – Greg Kelly, Penn State associate dean for research, outreach, and technology, was invited to give one of four plenary talks at the European Science Education Research Association’s 9th bi-annual conference on September 7, 2011 in Lyon, France.

Kelly’s speech, titled “Analysing Classroom Activities: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations,” went in-depth regarding researching classroom interaction. Kelly drew conclusions from two distinct studies he conducted to create an argument for “the study of spoken and written discourse in science classrooms.” The speech illustrated the importance of studying classroom interaction in detail, making analyses more methodical, and providing instructional implications from educational research.

“It was very exciting being part of such an international conference,” said Kelly. “There was representation from all over the world. It was interesting to see the many common problems educators face throughout the worldkelly_greg.jpg, but also the variations due to local differences.”

The three other plenary speakers and Kelly were each given 50 minutes to speak, followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. Kelly didn’t stop there though. As editor emeritus of the journal Science Education, he hosted a preconference session for new researchers, titled “Getting Publishing in Science Education Journals.” He also participated in a symposium titled “Analysis of Physics Classroom Activities: Theoretical and Methodological Issues.”

While there, Kelly attended other speeches over the four-day conference and was impressed by what he saw. “The European countries have a far greater experience and interest in science programs that situate school science in societal problems," said Kelly. “They put values and ethics into science curricula in a direct manner. There are emerging interests in the designed world and engineering education.”

Kelly said he saw first-hand some of the problems facing educational institutions--decreased student interest in pursuing science, challenges for educators teaching in a multicultural/multilingual environments, and the role of education in addressing ecological problems-–but is pleased to know there is a greater worldwide emphasis on science education than ever before. He plans on bringing the vital knowledge learned in France back to Penn State to start solving these problems.

Founded in 1995, the same year as the inaugural bi-annual conference, ESERA’s main objective is to improve the quantity and quality of science education research with an emphasis on spreading collaborative efforts across all countries. Besides the bi-annual conference, ESERA has research offices in more than 100 universities spanning five continents and publishes four scientific research journals. ESERA also runs a bi-annual summer school for up to 45 international Ph.D. students to collectively discuss each other’s dissertation.

Slides from all three of Kelly’s sessions can be found at