CIRE at Conferences Part 2: BERA

This is the second in a series of  posts written by CIRE members who presented at conferences throughout the UK in Summer/Autumn 2017. Part 1, written by CIRE Director Angeline Barrett, focused on UKFIET 2017. Here, PhD student Jane Nebe writes about her experience at BERA 2017.

Attending My 1st BERA Conference

by Jane Nebe

The 2017 edition of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference held on 5th – 7th September 2017 at the University of Sussex, Brighton. It was my first time attending a BERA conference, but it wasn’t my first time at the city of Brighton. I was excited about attending the conference as I received a BERA bursary that exempted me from paying the student registration fee of £285 (if payment was made after 1st May). However, I was anxious as well because I was presenting my PhD research at the conference. I would later realise that my anxiety was unnecessary, because the presentation went well and I had a very supportive audience.

jane 1

Presenting my paper on 5th September, 2017

The presentation was titled ‘Exploring the Consequences of Poor Academic Performance in Nigeria’s High-stakes Secondary School Exit Certificate Examinations: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Study’. There, I spoke on how my PhD research was seeking to understand the ways that high-stakes examinations impacted on higher education aspirations for secondary school leavers in Nigeria. Having concluded fieldwork in June 2017, I was able to provide my audience some of the findings that emerged from a part of my Pilot Study. Evaluating my performance afterwards, I felt I should have provided more specifics for my audience while articulating the research methodology and design. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the feedback I got on how I could critically engage with theory, considering the philosophical framework of my research.

At the conference, there were interesting presentations by other researchers and thought-provoking Keynote speeches. It was exciting to learn about the wide range of educational research going on around the world. Of course, there was the social part of the conference where I met new people. It was also a huge pleasure to reconnect with an old friend who relocated to Australia and another dear Colleague, Dr. Sana Rizvi, who now lectures at De Montfort University. It was also nice to see familiar faces from the School of Education, University of Bristol such as Professor Rosamund Sutherland, Dr. Sue Timmis and Ms. Paola Ramirez. My most memorable occasion was sitting on the same table with the new BERA President for 2017 – 2019, Professor Gary McCulloch at the Dinner event.

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Dr. Sana Rizvi and I at the end of the conference on 7th Sept 2017.

Reflecting on my experience of the BERA conference, I dare say it has particularly motivated me to ensure that my research is rigorous, both conceptually and methodologically. I even bought a book that was relevant to my research at a discounted rate and opened conversation with a prospective publisher. I am grateful to BERA for the bursary I was awarded, which made this experience possible as I look forward to attending future BERA conferences.

Jane Nebe is a 3rd Year PhD student at the School of Education, University of Bristol.

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