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Research, Policy and Practice: Current Influences on Special Education

The aim of this symposium is to display and critically reflect on the current development of approaches and methods in specialeducational research, policy and practice. We aim to hold the symposium on campus with a digital solution for those who cannot make it to Umeå. The symposium is also part of two 2.5 credit doctoral courses.

Symposium November 25-26, 2021

This is the programme (including practical information) for the 2021 international symposium on Special Education in Umeå. The first day of the symposium is open to school-based practitioners. The symposium is also part of a 2.5 credit doctoral course in special education. The second day is research focused and the number of attendees is limited. We encourage all practitioners, researchers, including doctoral students, who wish to participate to register. 

Background and content for the symposium

The aim of the symposium is to critically reflect on the current development of approaches and methods in special educational research, policy and practice, generally and specifically in relation to the development of language, writing and reading, mathematical development, and learning disabilities. The questions we will consider include: How can we produce knowledge that helps us understand the complexities of special education in contemporary society in relation to national and international trends? In what ways can we strengthen networking, cross-national interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration, close to practice research, and stimulate the dissemination of research in the field of special education? How can we understand the relationship between methods and the articulation of special educational knowledge? The invited speakers from Sweden and England will help us articulate the traditions, approaches, conditions and differences between research projects conducted in cooperation between universities and schools in Sweden and in other European countries.

For the second day of the symposium, we invite research paper submissions relating to policy and practice in the field of special education. We especially welcome contributions with a close to school practice focus, a focus on the development of language, writing and reading, mathematical development, and/or learning disabilities.

We intend to investigate possibilities for basing an anthology or a journal special issue based on the symposium’s presentations in the near future.

Symposium Program

Day 1
The first day of the symposium will start with coffee. Before lunch, there will be one lecture and in the afternoon there will be three lectures with short breaks between each presentation. We round off the day with a short open discussion picking up on the day’s themes. The day will end with a dinner at Umeå University.

Day 2
The number of participants for the second day of the symposium is severely limited. During the second day of the symposium, there will be a maximum of four parallel seminars that will be thematically or methodologically focused. Contributors will present their paper for about 10 minutes following by a 20-minute discussion of the paper. There will be short breaks between each presentation, and the day will end with a lunch at Umeå University.

Date 25 November
Room: BET.E.101, Behavioural Sciences Building
09.30-10.00   Registration and coffee/tea
10.00-10.15   Welcoming introduction 
10.15-11.30   Keynote Claes Nilholm
                     Inclusive education – how can theory be developed?
11.30-12.30   Lunch
12.30-13.45   Keynote Anita Norlund
                     Unpacking the special educational needs Industry -
                     voices from invoices
13.45-14.00   Coffee/tea break
14.00-15.15   Keynote Julie Allan
                     Challenges and dilemmas in speical education-
                     what can we learn from children and young people?
15.15-15.45   Coffee/tea break
15.45-17.00    Keynote Åsa Wengelin
                     Right to write or fight to write? – writing processes,
                     writing difficulties and writing technologies                   
17.00-17.15   Summing-up session
18.00             Informal mingelbuffé at the Department of Education

Date 26 November
Room: BET.E.101 and BET.E.108 and BET.E.109, Behavioural Sciences Building 
08.45-09.00   Information
09.00-12.30   Parallel seminars, Coffee/tea break
12.30             Farewell

Day 1 Keynotes and contributors

A limited selection of distinguished researchers are invited to the symposium. All of them have been chosen with special concern to reflect different knowledge areas of the research field. The following keynotes will hold presentations during the symposium:

Claes Nilholm is professor of Education at Uppsala University. He has a wide research interest in inclusive/special needs education, especially as regards theoretical and conceptual issues but also empirical research. He has recently published the book En inkluderande skola - möjligheter, hinder, dilemman (An inclusive school - possibilities, hindrances, dilemmas). He has one blog in Swedish and one in English, both addressing inclusive education as policy and practice.

Julie Allan is Head of the School of Education and professor of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Birmingham. Her work encompasses inclusive education, disability studies and children’s rights and is both empirical and theoretical. She has a particular interest in educational theory and the insights offered through poststructural and social capital analyses. Julie has been advisor to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Dutch and Queensland Governments and has worked extensively with the Council of Europe.

Anita Norlund together with Lill Langelotz and Magnus Levinsson. Anita Norlund is professor of Educational Work at Borås University. Her research interests concern sociology of education with a particular focus on timeless pedagogical ideals and trends, and their effects on the school system, as well as on teachers and students. Norlund is leader of the research environment JEDi (Justice, Education and Didactics). 

Lill Langelotz is associate professor of Educational Work at University of Gothenburg. Her main research focus is teacher professional learning and educational practices and praxis. Recently she was involved in a national, collaborative research- and development project ’Inkluderande lärmiljöer/ Inclusive learning environments’, financed by Ifous, seven municipalities in Sweden and University of Borås.   

Magnus Levinsson is associate professor of Educational Work at Borås University. His main research interest concerns the role of recearch in teachers’ work, with a particular focus on the evidence-based practice movement and use of systematic research reviews in education.  

Langelotz, Levinsson and Norlund are involved in the four-year-project Following Invoices - Finding Professional Learning?  funded by the Swedish Research Council. The project deepens the understanding of teacher learning in times when different stakeholders try to get external control and impact on education and teachers’ work.  

Åsa Wengelin is professor of Swedish at the University of Gothenburg. She has an interdisciplinary background and has previously held positions in linguistics, disability studies and special education. Her main research interests are literacy and literacy difficulties – developmental as well as acquired – with a particular interest in writing processes and writing technologies. She is also interested in linguistic accessibility (e.g. plain language and easy readers).

Day 2 Papers presented

Guidelines for Contributors
Contributors will present their paper for about 10 minutes following by a 20-minute discussion of the paper. The presentation is within the main thrust of the symposium (e.g. research, policy and practice- current trends on special education).

Guidelines for Paper Submission
The cover page should include:
(a) Name of author(s),
(b) Title and Affiliation(s),
(c) Full address of corresponding author(s) including their phone and e-mail.

The next page should include the title of the submission and a 300 word single-spaced abstract which should be sent via Email to Symposium Convener (kim.wickman@umu.se). Full paper should be limited to 3000 (included references) words. Manuscripts should be typed using Times New Roman Style having the font of 12 in double-spaced with 1.25 of margins. When the paper includes illustrations, they need to be of good quality. 

Syllabuses Doctoral courses in special education

Syllabus: Forskning, Policy och Praktik- Aktuella utvecklingstrender inom Specialpedagogik

Syllabus: Forskning, Policy och Praktik - Aktuella utvecklingstrender inom Specialpedagogik 2 

Abstracts Doctoral Students

Current Influences on Special Education

Download abstracts

Reflektioner från deltagarna

Intervju med Jonny Wåger

Jonny är doktorand i pedagogik vid Örebro universitet. Han var en av deltagarna under symposiedagarna.

Intervju med Siv Danvind

Siv är lärare och specialpedagog i Umeå. Hon var en av deltagarna under symposiedagarna.

Senast uppdaterad: 2021-11-26