I just want to share a piece of my experience attending the 7th Joint SELF Biennial International Conference and Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS) Conference in Singapore last week (9-11 September 2013). The conference was held at Nanyang Girls Boarding High School, located in Bukit Timah area, about 15 minutes driving from Changi international airport.
The conference ran well and it was officially opened by Ms. Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education. More than five hundreds participants from 22 countries attended the conference, and it seemed to me that I was the only participant coming from Monash University I came there to present part of my on-going PhD research on pre-service English teachers’ professional identity construction in Indonesian context.
The conference’s themes were quite diverse, ranging from the self-related issues, understanding 21st century learners, curriculum development and practice, to new pedagogies in learning.
Attending this conference was just a great experience for me. Not only could I share my research findings, but more importantly I could also get some constructive feedbacks for my on-going thesis, either directly from those attending at my session or indirectly from many other presenters along the conference.
I enjoyed listening to many insightful key note speakers along the conference. Some of the key note speakers are including Richard M. Ryan, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Education at University of Rochester, USA; Herb Marsh, Professor in Psychology & Education (CPPE), University of Western Sydney Australia; Susan Harter John Evans, Professor and Professor Emerita at the Department of Psychology University of Denver, USA; Marilynn B. Brewer, Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University, USA, and some other ‘big names’ in the area of psychology in education.
Professor Ryan, as you might have known, is one of the world leading experts in the self-determination theory. In his presentation entitled ‘Autonomy and Control in Human Behavior: Research on Motivation, Self, and Well-being from Self-determination Theory’, he explained that Self-determination theory distinguishes people’s motivation in terms of the degree to which it is self-regulated or autonomous, versus being regulated by rewards or pressures that are experienced as controlling. I couldn’t remember all details from his talks, but I do remember the key point from his presentation that people’s quality of engagement, persistence and well-being are strongly affected by how autonomous or controlled they feel while acting. Autonomy means when you do something because you really mean it.
Now, if we are reflecting this theory into ourselves as a PhD student, the quality of engagement, persistence and well-being we have during our research journey will be very much affected by the degree of autonomy or control we are having. Are you doing your PhD because of self-regulated motivation or because of externally driven factors, such as reward and pressures? We actually have our own choice.
Prof. Harter talked about ‘Reconsidering the Self; In search of Authenticity’. Overall, she reviewed a lot of conceptualisation of the self which have flourished in the last two centuries. She, specifically discussed the distinction between the I-self and the Me-self which was first introduced by James (1890). Then, Prof. Brewer discussed a topic on ‘Understanding the Social Self’ by relating her explanation to the ‘three partite self’ (individual, relational, and collective self). However, I won’t talk much about this, nor report some other details of the presentation as this is probably not really interesting topic for some of you.
What was interesting for me during the conference was not only being able to listen to many interesting new insights in various educational research topics –which in turns made me feel dizzy as some of them are complicated for me – but more importantly is (as you all have also experienced) that this conference has enabled me to meet some new peoples in the area related to my research topic. I could surely contact those people for further communication in case I need some helps or think to have a joint publication later.
At the end of the conference, there was an announcement for SELF PhD Award. The SELF PhD Award is presented at the biennial international conference for the most outstanding doctoral dissertation(s) in the field over the previous two years. This award recognises outstanding contributions made by a doctoral student(s) whose thesis focus lies within the different research traditions that drive self and identity research. You could have a look at SELF ERAS Conference website, if you are interested to participate in this award for the next conference
Last but not least, herwith I am posting some of my pictures during in Singapore
Thank you for reading this post.
All the best for all of you guys!