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CEMO goes to sea

Together with measurement experts from Germany, Finland and Norway, most of the Centre for Educational Measurement "crew" recently went on a seminar far from shore. The seminar intended to facilitate collaboration efforts within each other's substantive areas.

How should the cooperation between the research groups develop? From the left Julius Kristjan Björnsson (EKVA), Olaf Köller (IPN), Arto Ahonen (FIER) and Johan Braeken (CEMO). Photo: Rolf Vegar Olsen

In 2015 CEMO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) at the University of Kiel. CEMO and IPN have strong common interests and thematic connections in their research portfolios. The memorandum is meant to contribute to common projects and exchange both guest researchers and doctoral students.

From 31 January to 2 February CEMO and IPN followed up this memorandum of understanding with a seminar. The seminar took place on the ferry between Oslo and Kiel. For the first half of the trip, southwards, an internal seminar took place with the research group Unit for Quantitative Analysis in Education (EKVA) and three guests from the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER) (external link) at the Jyväskylä University. FIER, among other duties, is responsible for the administration of international assessments (e.g. PISA) in Finland, and conducts much research on their outcomes.

In Kiel a large group of researchers from IPN came on-board. IPN specializes in research on mathematics and science didactics. The institute also has a group of psychometric researchers with extensive knowledge. The northbound trip was productive, resulting in possible future collaborations.

The future of measurement

With nearly 40 measurement experts gathered in one place, it is not surprising that the groups quickly came to discuss future developments in the field. Professor at CEMO, Rolf Vegar Olsen, participated in the seminar and reported about fruitful discussions exploring questions like "where will we be in 20 years" and "how can a Norwegian-Finnish-German network contribute to strengthen the research in the field even more?"

– While many topics came up, ultimately we did agree that new technology gives a crucial contribution to drive the field forward. Through greatly improved computational power it will be possible to run more complex models, and the emergence of "big data" will give analytical information about the learning processes and not only outcomes. We also saw a large potential in developing innovative tools to simulate practical consequences of political large-scale interventions, Olsen explains.

Rolf Vegar Olsen. (Photo: Øystein Andresen)

Many also agreed that even though psychometric theory and methods are rapid developing, it takes a long time before this can be practically applied, for example, in large-scale assessments. In the same way new technological opportunities will arise, but it will take time before the technology can be utilized to create enhanced assessment instruments.

Planned collaboration

– Finland, Germany and Norway are an interesting combination of countries. These are three countries that represent different approaches to education and have different national assessment tools. At the same time, these are three countries that put a lot of emphasis on not only participating in international large-scale assessments, but using these rich data sets for further international research cooperation and analysis, focused on the national context, Olsen finishes.

CEMO, EKVA, FIER and IPN agreed on further enhancing their cooperation through common symposia and PhD exchanges. The group plans to set sail again at the same time next year.

The seminar was organized and sponsored by the research group Large-scale Educational Assessment (LEA).

Published Feb. 3, 2017 1:08 PM - Last modified Feb. 3, 2017 2:53 PM