My first conference experience

Having benefitted so much from all your posts on experiences of various kinds, I thought I should share one of my own. A couple of weeks ago I went to a conference in Poland entitled ‘Classroom-oriented research: reconciling theory and practice’. My main reason for going was not the great line up of plenary speakers, or the chance to visit a country I’ve never been to (although they were important), but to confront my fears. I hate giving presentations and yet I know it comes with the territory when you’re doing a PhD. So I reasoned that if I went to Poland it would not only give me a chance to practise but also, if I gave a rubbish presentation it wouldn’t matter too much as I don’t know anyone and they don’t know me!

The presentation was based on the first chapter of my MA dissertation and was entitled ‘From Action Research to Exploratory Practice: a search for a ‘sense of plausibility’. It was very personal and maybe that made it easier in a way as I was telling my own story. I was still very nervous, but fortunately I was on the first day, so that meant I got it out of the way and could enjoy the rest of the conference. Being on the first day also meant meeting people who were interested in similar things  early on which was very helpful.

It was a small, unthreatening and friendly conference, so it was a great place to start. A lot of us were staying in the same hotel and we all ate lunch and evening meals together, so there were lots of opportunities to get to know each other and chat about life – and our research interests.  The Polish were fantastic – very hospitable and welcoming and the plenary speakers went to a lot of the parallel sessions and gave helpful feedback. I hadn’t expected them to be so involved and approachable, so that was an added bonus.

All in all, it was a very positive experience. I’m still scared, but at least the first one is done and dusted!





  • Richard Fay

    Dzekujie bardzo 🙂

  • Susan Dawson

    Here it is.

    From Action Research to Exploratory Practice: a search for a ‘sense of plausibility’

    This paper traces my own personal search for a ‘sense of plausibility’ (Prabhu, 1990) in my teaching through undertaking classroom research during the course of my MA studies at the University of Manchester. I explain the two Action Research cycles I implemented in an attempt to help my learners develop their reflective thinking abilities and how this culminated in a study based on the principles of Exploratory Practice (Allwright and Hanks, 2009): a form of doing inclusive practitioner research. The studies took place over a one-year period in a private Further Education College in Manchester, England among various groups of students studying English for Academic Purposes. The first Action Research cycle involved the implementation of listening and speaking logs based on their documented benefits to stimulate reflection. The second introduced a staged, problem-based task which the students carried out in groups with intentional opportunities for reflection built in. After examining the effects of these two cycles on both my own professional development and the students’ reflective abilities, I move on to give a brief overview of the principles of Exploratory Practice and show how I applied these to my classroom with the aim of encouraging collaborative reflection. The results demonstrate how this approach not only enabled my students to grow as reflective thinkers both individually and collaboratively, but also provided a unique way of including them as co-practitioners in the research process as they set and investigated their own research agendas. I conclude by discussing the role that inclusive practitioner research has had on my own developing ‘sense of plausibility’ as a teacher.

  • Richard Fay

    any chance of uploading the title and abstract?