IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE academics deliver papers at international education conference

20 April 2018

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) staff have joined education experts from around the world for the annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference.

Several IOE academics presented papers at the conference, which was held in New York.

Professor Becky Francis, IOE Director, delivered a symposium on 'Tracking Students by "Ability": Discourses, Practices, and Impact on Young People' with colleagues Dr Becky Taylor, Dr Antonina Tereshchenko, Professor Jeremy Hodgen and Professor Louise Archer.

The presentation was based on several studies the academics have written together, which includes topics such as students' attitudes to mixed-attainment grouping, self-confidence and set level among Year 7 (age 12) students, and the difficulty for schools to establish equitable practices in allocating students to attainment 'sets'.

Research has consistently failed to find significant benefits of 'ability' grouping; and indeed has identified disadvantages for some (low attaining) student groups. The symposium reports findings to explore why, despite the evidence, the practice of setting remains prevalent. It focused in particular on young people from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds, whom research has demonstrated to be over-represented in low tracks.

Other IOE talks at the conference included Professor Dylan Wiliam in 'Methodology and Equity: An International Perspective'. This explored the challenges of large-scale and classroom assessments of students' educational outcomes in the context of globalisation.

With developments in state-of-the-art methodologies to ensure fairness in measuring educational outcomes in diverse contexts, the panel event sought to answer questions on what constitutes 'state-of-the-art methodologies', what are the conceptions of 'fairness' and how have they been informed.

The theme of this year's conference was 'the dreams, possibilities, and necessity of public education'. And numerous IOE talks explored this theme, with subjects ranging from school poverty, to science and gender, and the challenges in teaching complex histories, such as the Holocaust.

AERA is a national research society and was founded in 1916. It aims to advance knowledge about education, encourage scholarly inquiry and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
+44 (0)20 3108 8516