Keynote Speakers

  • Prof. Dr. Pang Ming Fai (University of Hongkong)
  • Dr. Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen (University of Helsinki)
  • Prof. Dr. Romain Martin (University of Luxemborg)


Prof. Dr. Pang Ming Fai (University of Hongkong)
Implications of Phenomenography, Variation Theory and Learning Study on Assessment Practices

The term ‘phenomenography’ was coined by Marton (1981) to identify an empirical research paradigm dating to the 1970s that aims at describing the qualitatively different ways in which people experience or see the same phenomenon. Different ways of experiencing or seeing are differentiated and logically related to one another in terms of which aspects of the phenomenon are being discerned and attended to simultaneously by the experiencer. Two strands or domains of research have evolved out of the phenomenographic research tradition. The first includes development of the variation theory of learning (Marton & Booth 1997; Marton & Tsui, 2004; Marton & Pang, 2006; Pang & Ki, 2015). The second strand includes the development of learning study practice (cf. Marton 2001), in which teachers work collaboratively to organise learning instances of a particular phenomenon according to the variation and invariance along certain dimensions of variation to bring learning about (e.g. Marton & Tsui 2004; Pang & Lo 2012; Pang & Marton 2003, 2005). Regardless of whether we are concerned with the first or second strand, contemplation of the phenomenographic knowledge is of significant importance to improving education. However, the focus of phenomenographic research thus far is primarily on teaching and learning, with few studies being conducted in the area of assessment. This presentation will explore and discuss the affordance of using phenomenography, variation theory and learning study to inform and improve the assessment practices in education.


Dr. Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen (University of Helsinki)
Development of learning to learn competences during basic education: Individual, contextual and situational predictors

According to the Finnish definition, learning to learn means general cognitive competences and the willingness to apply them in novel learning situations. Cognitive competences – thinking and reasoning skills in different contexts, problem solving, reading comprehension – are trained in subject-specific studying throughout the school career and they are needed in all learning situations also later in life. The development of these competences is to some extent constrained by initial individual differences, but they can also be enhanced by schooling even if training of them was just embedded in the curriculum without separate intervention programmes. This presentation gives an overview of the results of several longitudinal large-scale assessment studies on learning to learn. Pupils’ test performance, questionnaire responses and log data have been linked to information provided by parents and teachers as well as to school level data of the contextual factors. The results have been analysed mainly by multilevel or multiple group structural equation modelling. At an individual level, the development of learning to learn competences is predicted by pupils’ background and prior abilities, but also motivational factors play a role in this development. Moreover, situational factors such as effort put on the assessment tasks or interest in the task contents explain the development beyond the other predictors. The development of learning to learn competences is also linked to pupils’ well-being and health behaviour. At a group level, the development seems to be slightly different in different schools and classes, indicating that schools succeed somewhat differently in enhancing these competences. However, school and class composition effects seem to be very small in the Finnish context even though some peer influences have been observed. Pupils who need support for their studies and pupils with an immigrant background have lower initial performance but the differences remain relatively stable over time, indicating that the extensive support system in Finland manages to keep the gap from increasing considerably. However, the gender gap increases and girls have a clear advantage when applying to upper secondary education after basic education.

Prof. Dr. Romain Martin (University of Luxemborg)
Understanding educational outcomes through a comprehensive multi-level school monitoring system: the example of Luxembourg

Subsequently to the first PISA studies, many countries have acknowledged the need to implement school monitoring systems in order to complement their traditional educational governance structures with elements of evidence-based governance. While the initial focus of such school monitoring systems has been on system-level monitoring, it became rapidly evident that such evidence-based governance elements would also be needed at the levels of the schools in order to support efforts in the domain of school quality development. Furthermore, the demand for a better understanding of the mid- and long-term effects of specific educational interventions and of the exact processes that lead to specific educational outcomes seems to require the establishment of explicit links between system-level monitoring and more fine-grained analyses at the school level. Additionally, an understanding of educational outcomes implies the longitudinal tracing of developmental processes starting with the beginning of educational careers. Potential solutions to these challenges will be discussed and illustrated on the basis of the experiences made in the context of the implementation of a comprehensive school monitoring system in Luxembourg.