SIG 21: Learning and teaching in culturally diverse educational settings

Founding meeting of the SIG.

The founding meeting of SIG 21 was held at the EARLI conference in Budapest on Wednesday August 29, from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.

The meeting was attended by around forty colleagues. The coordinators, Guida de Abreu and Ed Elbers, made a short opening statement outlining the SIG mission and the history to the formation of the SIG, which started in the EARLI Conference in Padova. At the Padova conference some of us interested in learning in culturally diverse settings came together in two research symposia and informal gatherings. This initial collaboration was consolidated in the publication of a special issue of the European Journal of Psychology of Education, focusing on "The social mediation of learning in multiethnic schools" (vol 20, 1, March 2005). More importantly this sparked an interest in forming a formal SIG group, which was approved by the EARLI Executive Committee in March 2007.

After this brief history the co-ordinators and colleagues attending the foundation meeting introduced themselves and briefly talked about their research. In their contributions, the participants expressed support for the SIG initiative and enthusiasm for its aims to form a platform for exchanging information and research on culturally diverse educational settings and for organising collaboration. Several colleagues stressed the importance of the new SIG,

Sarah Crafter, the newsletter editor of the SIG, introduced her plans. The newsletter will contain news and events, such as conference and meeting dates, a forum for calls for papers and special issues, messages of members to the group and announcements about group successes. The newsletter will also provide space for small articles about research and conferences. New members will introduce themselves. New publications by members of the SIG and other important publications will be announced. The Newsletter will appear twice a year. It will be circulated by e-mail and available on the WEB.

The SIG will also have a web page as part of the web site of EARLI. We will publish the mission statement, make a link to the newsletters, and publish any information which may be relevant to an audience of interested colleagues.

Guida and Ed elaborated on their intention to organise a SIG meeting in spring or early summer of 2008. Two options were considered. The first, which was discussed at the meeting, was to organise a meeting for the SIG in Oxford in June 2008. The second option was presented by some members of SIG 10 (social interaction in learning and instruction) who, after finishing their own session, joined our meeting. They made the suggestion that SIGs 10, 15 and 21 could organise a joint meeting. The coordinators will consider the two possibilities and make a decision.

In terms of format, several colleagues emphasized the importance of making the SIG meeting as useful as possible, by using a variety of presentation and discussion formats: next to poster and paper sessions also sessions where people discuss texts which they have read before the conference, or sessions in which invited speakers comment on others' research. Others pointed to the desirability to use the SIG meeting for preparing symposiums for the coming EARLI conference in Amsterdam (2009). It is also hoped that the SIG meeting will also lead to publications by encouraging and making possible collaboration between participants. We will take these views into consideration when collaborating in the organisation of the first SIG meeting in Gothenburg.

At the end we made a photo of all members present during this first (and therefore historical!) meeting of the SIG. The photo will be published on the website and in the first newsletter.

Note on the SIG meeting in 2008.
After careful consideration the SIG co-ordinators accepted the invitation for the joint meeting in Gothenburg. This would facilitate the participation of colleagues with overlapping interests in these SIGs. The joint SIGs pool of resources also makes easy the invitation of speakers with theoretical and methodological expertise, which applies to common interests. The meeting will be in Gothenburg, Sweden, in May 19-20th 2008. A call for contributions will be sent out very soon.

Guida de Abreu & Ed Elbers

21 September 2007