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Notes from the SIGs Coordinator

Thanks to SIG Conveners, Co-Conveners and members for your involvement in SIGs and the contribution this makes to the work of AARE. Your involvement in SIG discussions, activities and events throughout the year, in addition to the annual conference, are very much appreciated by our research community. AARE members interested in getting more involved in SIGs are encouraged to visit the SIG pages on the AARE website, and to be in contact with their SIG leadership teams about ways to contribute to SIG networking and activities. Below are news items contributed by individual SIGs, as well as notices of relevance to all SIGs.

Please feel free to contact Mary Lou Rasmussen or if you have any questions about your SIG involvement or any proposed SIG activities you might want to discuss. I look forward to working with you all this year. 

Mary Lou Rasmussen
AARE SIGs Coordinator

SIG Competitive Grants Increase in number of awards

At the February 2016 meeting of the AARE Executive Committee, a decision was made to increase the number of Competitive Grants available to SIGs from six to 10. Beginning in the 2016 funding round, up to 10 Competitive Grants of $5000 each will be available. This is excellent news, and reflects the growing popularity of these funding schemes as a way to build capacity and momentum in the SIGs. Proposed projects can involve collaboration by two or more SIGs, and each SIG can be involved in a maximum of one project/application, which can be either solo or joint. The funding round is expected to open sometime in April. This year we are going to be trialing an online application process in order to streamline the system and hopefully notify award winners in a more timely fashion. Please keep an eye out for this on the AARE website - We are also appointing a person to assist the SIG coordinator in their role. This part time position will help with processing of grants, updating the website to address changes in SIG leadership, and to assist with liaison with SIG leaders throughout the year.

SIGs at the annual conference

We are interested in raising the profile of the SIGs at the conference. One idea we have in mind is to have a place where SIG leaders can stand advertising their SIGs at the opening reception. This is a way of inducting first-timers into SIGs, as well as advertising events during the conferences, and showcasing the accomplishments of members. We would be interested in your feedback about the value of this proposal. Please email your thoughts to

SIG networking event

We will continue to have a SIG networking event, but are going to try a slightly different format in 2016. We will keep you posted as plans develop. Our aim is to have a space where SIGs can come together one night after SIG business meetings, preferably at the conference venue or very nearby. We are not planning on returning to SIG dinners, but individual SIGs are welcome to organize such events. Please email your thoughts to

SIG movements

Two new SIGs have been developed. The Environmental and Sustainability Education SIG and the STEM SIG. Details of leadership of these SIGs is available on the SIG webpage. After extensive consultation with both SIG, it has been agreed that the Doctoral Education SIG is merging with the Professional and Higher Education SIG.

Educational Leadership SIG

The Educational Leadership SIG is currently using the $800 we applied for in 2015 to employ a Research Assistant.  The Research Assistant is currently going through PhDs published in Australia in the past few years to put together an inventory of their topics, methodologies, and theoretical lenses.  We hope it is a useful starting point for us in thinking about where the field is heading.

Education Theory and Philosophy SIG

The Education Theory and Philosophy SIG and the University of Newcastle will host the following roundtable event – Progressive Education Futures: What counts as a progressive or radical act in education today?  This semi-structured round table event will bring together community members, educationalists and teachers from the Hunter region of NSW to share our insights into enacting progressive or radical educational practice in schools and universities today. With current emphasis given to entrepreneurial business models of education and the narrowing of educational outcomes, it is increasingly important to program time to explore messy problems, negotiate for democratic classrooms, activate for social and cultural responsibility and challenge the status quo.  The afternoon’s program will bring together passionate and willing participants to workshop what educators and community groups are doing or hope to do to enact and keep open the possibilities of a progressive agenda. Our aim is to engage and generate conversations about what kind of change is desirable and contribute to what it means to be progressive or radical in education today.

Progressive Education Futures

Roundtable event with Keynote from Assoc. Prof James Ladwig, UoN

Monday 20th June, 2016
2pm – 4.30pm

Afternoon tea provided

The Treehouse. The University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus

*Register before Monday 30 May 2016 by email –

Narrative Research SIG becomes Qualitative Research Methodologies SIG

The Narrative Research SIG held a meeting on the 30th of November 2015, where a decision was made to broaden our domain to Qualitative Research Methodologies. The purpose of this broader SIG (Qualitative Research Methodologies) is to provide opportunities to discuss, test ideas and debate qualitative methodological issues (such as ethics and research design) in social and educational contexts. The SIG will welcome exploration of all qualitative methodologies, including action research, arts-based research, biographical research, case studies, discourse analysis, ethnography, ethnomethodology, hermeneutics, narrative research, phenomenography, and so on.

History and Education SIG

History and Education Now: concepts, methods, questions.

The AARE History and Education SIG, in conjunction with the Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society, hosted a successful two-day research workshop in February. The workshop explored current research approaches in the history of education, from theoretical and methodological debates to practical strategies and reflections from historians in action. The sessions attracted researchers working across a wide range of educational research, including policy, curriculum studies, inequality, social justice, comparative education and globalisation; others were undertaking or interested in beginning historical studies in education, or had broad interests in the historical context of contemporary agendas in educational policy, practice and research.

We received some wonderful feedback from participants who enjoyed the range of discussions and ideas raised, with especially enthusiastic responses from graduate students and ECRs who also were happy to make connections with other researchers, and found the sessions valuable: ‘I can't believe how much I learnt just listening and then having informal conversations’. Across the two days, it was really inspiring to hear about the type of new research and new projects underway –and to learn about lots of exciting doctoral studies in train.

Day one comprised sessions for graduate students and early career researchers; in the morning about 25 participants attended a session at the Public Record Office Victoria on working with archival sources for educational research, this was an enormously helpful session and it was clear that PROV (and other state equivalents) offers a wealth of fabulous material for educational research and teaching. If you would like a PowerPoint from this session please contact Julie McLeod. This was followed in the afternoon with a round-table discussion attended by about 30 graduate students on conceptual framing of research projects, facilitated by key note speaker Professor Tom Popkewitz (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Professor Bernadette Baker (QUT). 

Day two was held at the University of Melbourne, with about 55 participants treated to a stimulating and provoking keynote presentation from Professor Tom Popkewitz on ‘The historical possibility of practical knowledge as the object of change: Notes on the emergence of a system of reasoning’. A video recording of this lecture is available from a link from or at:

This was followed by two very engaging panels showcasing a range of issues, dilemmas and approaches that fall under the banner of history and education, with Q&A from an enthusiastic audience, and discussions continuing into the refreshment and lunch breaks. Panel 1 was on the topic of ‘Historical researchers in action: starting out, questions, sources, methods, theories, big ideas and the little details’. Presenters were Helen Proctor, David McCallum, Mary Tomsic and Joy Damousi, and Bernadette Baker. Panel 2 was on ‘History in the educational present: thinking sociologically and historically’, with presentations from Lyn Yates, Bill Green, Daniel Marshall and Terri Seddon.  The final session, ‘The practical, the digital, the methodological, the historical’ offered strategies for managing, accessing, creating and researching with digital archives, and was run by David Goodman and Nicale Davis (UniMelb). Full details of the program and presentations can be found at:

The AARE History and Education SIG extends sincere thanks to all presenters for their generosity, to AARE for the award of a competitive grant to host this workshop, to ANZHES for additional funds and co-sponsorship, to the School of Education at the University of Queensland for contributing to the visit of Professor Popkewitz and to Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, for administrative support and providing the venue. 

Julie McLeod, History and Education SIG.

Poststructural Theory SIG

As of March 2016, the Poststructural Theory SIG has 63 financial members

In 2015 the SIG had a busy year. One of the biggest events the SIG organized was the 3rd Theory in Education Dialogue at the AARE Conference with Bronwyn Davies and Margaret Somerville. The audio of this event can be heard from here. The SIG received Competitive Grant funding to support the dialogue held during the 2015 Annual Conference.

Professor Davies and Professor Somerville discussed the topic: New feminist poststructuralisms and the neoliberal university, addressing the overarching question of what new modes of thought and being have emerged from feminist poststructuralism and how are these positioned within the neoliberal university?

In 2015 Dr Eileen Honan stepped down as the SIG Convenor. The new members of the SIG leadership team are:

Dr Linda Knight (QUT) – SIG Convenor
Dr Stewart Riddle (USQ) – SIG Co-Convenor
Dr Tamara Cumming (CSU) – SIG Co-Convenor

As the new SIG Convenor, and on behalf of myself, Stewart and Tamara I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to Eileen for her fantastic leadership and her blazing energy in making the SIG a significant presence at the AARE conferences.  Congratulations Eileen!

A SIG meeting was held at AARE, we had a lively discussion around the future plans of the SIG, and our activities during 2016 and AARE 2016.

Sociocultural Activity Theory SIG

We don’t seem to have stopped since a fantastic series of workshops and seminars at AARE in Fremantle in December. The Sociocultural Activity Theory SIG now has a strategic plan loaded on our SIG space. Please feel free to have a look, comment and join our collaboration.  We want to create a dynamic interface between and among members so that we can develop symposia for AARE in Melbourne this year and build a culture of collaboration and support. 

During 2016 we propose to organise:

  1. A virtual workshop and seminar in early May to support you to improve your abstracts for AARE’s December Conference.
  2. In June, we will create a space for people to create short ‘elevator pitch videos’ expanding on presentation, journal, chapter ideas for the two day following AARE. This will enable members of the group to share what we are working on to promote collaboration and support.
  3.  A two day symposium (Friday 2nd and Sat 3rd December) backing onto AARE’s Melbourne Conference in which we will support you to develop your work into journal articles and book chapters.  This will also serve to support those wishing to collaborate on papers/presentations/symposia for 2017 ISCAR congress in Quebec.

Please feel free to contact the conveners John Cripps Clark, Gwen Gilmore or Jenny Martin with your thoughts and comments.  Contact details are available on the SIG webpage.

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