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The international Seminar of the Ifé/ENS de Lyon, and the LéA network scientific workshop

Updating the thematic focus of the 2017 IFE Learning and teaching seminar

International and multidisciplinary approaches to issues in Collaborative education research: the LéA scientific workshop


Given recent local changes in the organisation of educational research at the ENS de Lyon (creation of a CNRS/ENS The Laboratory of Education, UMS 3773), the topicality of issues around the ‘transfer’ of educational research, and the  development of the research field of participatory science (Houllier report, ALISS platform), the French Institute of Education (Institut Français de l’Éducation: IFE) seeks to reorient the thematic focus of its ‘Learning and teaching’ seminar, first launched in 2011.

The aim is to be more closely aligned with international research approaches that focus on – in brief – collaboration between educational professionals and educational researchers, as well as on the practical and epistemological issues posed by these approaches, related to the organic relationships between ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’.

The IFE is fully in line with this focus in both its past history as well as its current experimental project with the LéA network (a network of Cooperative Research Teams associated with the IFE). Since its inception in 2011, the LéA program has put in place and coordinated a network of 47 educational establishments involving 25 educational research teams. It serves as a ‘real-life’ experiment around the issues of research and knowledge transfer, which it approaches from the standpoint of ‘co-development’ in educational research. The LéA network contributes to the investigation of what is involved in Collaborative Research, a social demand whose importance is indicated by the creation (with the support of the IFE-ENS in Lyon) of the first Carnot Institute of Education (a structure that brings together academic and research spheres) in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The LéA scientific workshop aims to identify, discuss and highlight the scientific issues that the LéA network shares with other comparable schemes.

The international aspect of this approach is demonstrated by current research into comparable subjects around the world: in Asia, Lesson Studies; in Québec, Chantiers 7; in northern Europe, Change labs; and in the United States and other English-speaking countries, Design-based Research programmes (see the 7th session of the Seminar).

In previous years, the international IFE seminar has already focused on this approach on several occasions (sessions 4, 7, 8), prioritising cross-disciplinary educational research: didactic, teacher training, social sciences, learning sciences, etc.

On the scientific front, the aim is to promote the meeting and integration of several educational research fields in a multidisciplinary approach that combines critical observation of contexts and social influences on learning (social and historical sciences); an investigation into teaching content and issues (epistemology); an awareness of individual and shared cognitive processes (learning sciences); an analysis of complex interactive processes and the specific characteristics of a teacher’s work (didactic research, educational technology, etc.); and finally, the balance in play between work, training and the development of effective methods, which is explored in teacher training research. These are central issues for school systems, but similar challenges are faced in many other fields (other types of education, health research, job training, etc.): the goal is to make possible – to use an expression that is questionable in our context – the ‘transfer’ (‘dissemination’ or ‘reappropriation’) of research results, through the study of the collaborative conditions between the spheres of research, practice and management by educational institutions.

The five years of existence of the LéA programme have demonstrated the scientific productivity of each LéA, as well as the enrichment and improvement resulting from linking these establishments in a network. The seminars and meetings of the LéA network provide an initial framework for collective discussion; the LéA scientific workshop aims to extend and amplify this. The LéA establishments have permitted an emphasis on research that allows effective educational practices to be identified and understood in a natural setting, in real contexts involving collaborative activities between different stakeholders, which include not only classes, but the schools themselves and their contexts.

With the objective of going beyond, epistemologically, the division between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ research, the LéA network calls for research that attempts to link descriptive and normative aspects, to understand and transform these divisions, taking into consideration the anthropological and educational design dimensions. The LéAs are not limited to a specific context, or type of learning or teaching. They include extra-curricular and ‘informal’ education as well as ‘institutional’ education. The overriding idea is that different locations as well as different forms of education offer the variety of settings favourable to, indeed necessary to, exploring the specific scientific questions posed.

An initial list of questions for the LéA workshop

·         What type of epistemology is appropriate for research based on sources including the LéA network and comparable programmes (Creative Labs, Lesson Studies, Design-Based Research, Educational Design, Learning Communities, etc.)?

·         Which theoretical developments are appropriate for research based on sources including the LéA network and comparable programmes?

·         How should we describe and think about the organic relationships between ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ in LéA and comparable programmes?

·         Which specific methods should be used to identify and understand didactic activities and the cooperation between teachers and researchers?

·         What are the possible consequences of this type of research on the work, position and profession of researchers, teachers, trainers and management?

·         How can the international aspect of this type of research be increased by building a scientific network between the main types of collaborative research in different countries (Creative Labs, Lesson Studies, Design-Based Research, Educational Design, Learning Communities, etc.)?

·         What are the special features of the LéA network, both in general and in relation to comparable programmes?


The LéA scientific workshop will continue the focus that has been fundamental to the scientific programme of the IFE international seminar since its inception, promoting the unique blend of experimentation, theoretical investigation and production of knowledge and resources embodied by the LéA network.

Funding will be devoted mainly to inviting colleagues from abroad to help the IFE/ENS in Lyon to pursue its efforts in building an active international community around these issues, a process that has already begun with the IFE international seminar (the United States and other English-speaking countries for Design-Based Research; Finland for Creative Labs; Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia and China for Lesson Studies; France for Educational Design, the UK for research on the social brain; topics arising from the upcoming exchanges with Chinese collaborators from the ENS and the IFE via the PROSFER-JoRISS programme).

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