What Works in Education (Conference)

What Works in Education (Conference)

On Thursday last week, I decided to attend a full-day conference at UNSW Business School, organised by STEP UP Research Initiative. Since my startup has got me into the education sector, I thought this might be a good opportunity to learn about the research happening. 
(I know of Teaching @ UNSW’s events because I was told about them by someone from PVCE whom I met at one of Richard Buckland’s talks. Lucky me!) 
I learnt about how grading biases affect students’ enrolment in particular fields. There was another presentation on how a student’s course selection is based on the gender and quality of their peers and its effects on the labour market outcomes.  
I found a few that were quite interesting for me. One of them was the Role of Parental Education and Household Income in Children’s Aspiration for higher ed by Tina Rampino (University of Queensland). She talked about the importance of role models in the lives of children. I found it quite interesting because I could relate it to the less fortunate people in India, and how most families have a same class of living for generations. 
Another one was by Richard Holden et al. from UNSW. Richard and his team implemented a Sims-like game for one of the economics courses. Their objective was to “make education addictive.” They found that students who played the game were likely to take one extra course in economics. They also noticed a decrease in the likelihood of procrastination. 
Richard’s research was of significance to me because it talked about interaction and new means to make education interesting. Maybe something of this sort could be used to make lectures interesting? I could think of Project Ares, a game to conduct cybersecurity training. 
David Figlio from Northwestern University presented on the impact of immigrants on native born peers. His study found that as a greater number of immigrants enter a community, the locals move out to other areas. This affects the demographics in schools. This could partly explain the ghettos in and around Sydney, although I’m only speculating. 
All of these presentations were by people from Economics background, which I wasn’t aware of until I started chatting with other guests. Most of them had a definite style of presentation, and they had lots of numbers which could be barely read or made sense of by me. But I learnt about how researchers present their work and also got me thinking if I had a knack for it. I was probably the only grad student, and likely the only one from a design background. Nevertheless, I met some really nice people (researchers and educators) from different universities, including UNSW. I had a brief chat with Mark King, who is the director of Educational Delivery Services (PVCE), UNSW. It is amazing how attending events which aren’t exactly targeted towards you can connect you with a wider spectrum of people. I am really glad that I attended the event, although I was left tired at the end of it. 

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