By Dr. Patricia Briscoe

AERA LogoThe American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual meeting is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research. With pleasure KNAER team members Drs. Carol Campbell, Katina Pollock and Patricia Briscoeattended the 2015 annual meeting in Chicago. According to the AERA 15,750 people attended and was considered the third highest in the association’s history. With such large capacity, the conference brings together a showcase of groundbreaking, innovative studies in a diverse array of areas from early education through higher education, from digital learning to second language literacy. It is undoubtedly a place to encounter ideas and data that will shape tomorrow's education practices and policies. Besides ideas, the conference provides a wealth of opportunities to connect with leading and emergent thinkers from around the world.

2015 American Educational Research AssociationThis year AERA was organized around the theme “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis”. Therefore many of the sessions, panels, roundtables, lectures, and receptions highlighted issues of cultural, racial, gender, language, and other biases in an effort to move toward a greater awareness and understanding of how these paradigms influence education research, practice, and policy.

A key session that stood out at for me was the presidential address by Dr. Joyce E. King titled, “Morally Engaged Research/ers Dismantling Epistemological Nihilation in the Age of Impunity”. Dr. King discussed the universal human right to education, dysconscious racism, and the moral obligation of researchers to use their tools to benefit oppressed groups. I am always inspired by Dr. King’s ability to bring complex issues into a discussable space. For an in depth understanding of the concept dysconscious racism, read Dr. King’s article, “Dysconscious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers”. It will change your view racism and the role you play in deconstructing it.

Joyce E King There were many other meeting highlights. Here are just a few:

  • Social Justice in Education Award (2015) Lecture, Gloria J. Ladson-Billings lectured on historical and contemporary justice, encouraging scholars to reframe social justice with “justice... just, justice.”
  • Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, William F. Tate (Washington University in St. Louis) confronted the conflicting research paradigms of his past.
  • In the AERA Distinguished Lecture, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (Bard College) highlighted her work at the Bard Prison Initiative, noting that “prisons do not make us safe.
  • In a panel on “Linking Our Struggles: Visioning a Different Future,” Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) encouraged a focus on children as individuals and highlighted the problems with stereotypes such as the model-minority. “Children start school as if each child is the same. Right there, we have a problem,” said Honda.
  • Internationally recognized genealogist, Tony Burroughs, founder of the Center for Black Genealogy, and NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas, both Chicago natives, presented on practical interventions with youth—the power of community-family genealogical research and a youth basketball program that reduces gang violence.

Although the 2015 AERA conference ended a month ago the impact continues. Many annual meeting papers and sessions have made news headlines, including stories in the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Vox, International Business Times, and the major education trade publications. You can view complete coverage on the AERA website at 2015 AERA Annual Meeting in the News.

As during many conferences the Twitter conversation at AERA was an integrated component. The #AERA15 hashtag hit trending status on April 18 through April 19, with over 1,800 tweets that day and over 23,000 tweets overall during the meeting, 2,000 more than during the 2014 Annual Meeting. The impact of Twitter is undeniable based on this evidence. Oh and I almost forgot; let me introduce you to the AERA Annual Meeting mascot, affectionately named Ed-The-Poster-Tube. It will be interesting to see if Ed reappears at the 100th AERA meeting in Washington DC!

Ed the Poster Tube Ed the Poster Tube 2

If following the hashtag isn’t enough, then you can view 15 live-streamed sessions. There is a free registration required.

CDtGYh WIAETBrvA big event means planning ahead. The 2016 AERA Meeting marks an exciting milestone, the Centennial year. It is to be held in Washington, DC, on April 8–12. The theme is " Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies".

Don’t miss out on the 100th year of AERA. Mark your calendar and Twitter hashtag #AERA100th