Guri A. Nortvedt
Welcome to the first newsletter issue in 2016.
Earlier this month, the council and the secretariat met in London to evaluate our activities in 2015. Given that the council now consists of members elected in the past two years and has a new secretariat, we all felt that taking the time to discuss our experiences and thinking about how to work towards the aims of AEA Europe was worthwhile. With so many new hands on deck, most have performed many tasks for the first time, and it is important to take as many lessons as possible from both our successes and struggles. One of the services we would like to offer is improved and more accessible information about the association and better communication with members. The website was rebuilt in 2015, but much information is missing. We are working toward remedying this as well as adding information about the association that we believe is helpful and will improve communication between members. We hope you will actively use the website over the coming year and provide us with your feedback when we next meet in Cyprus for the 2016 conference.
More and more people come to the conference, and the membership is slowly growing. We know from the conference evaluations that the Glasgow conference was a big success, but there are some possibilities for improvement. For instance, the poster session: we will continue to discuss how to improve this session to better accommodate presenters and conference participants. We also know that it is the months between the conferences that we need to target if we want to be an association that is active throughout the year.
We also know that we need more hands on deck! This newsletter is put together by our secretariat, and I am very grateful to them for taking on this additional task. As a membership association, the newsletter is an important communication channel – between the council and the membership and between members. As you might have noticed, we did not manage to send out a September newsletter. Since Julie Sewell stepped down as editor in the autumn of 2014, we have been seeking a replacement. You will find the call on our website. If you think that you yourself or a colleague is the person we are looking for, please fill in the form, and send it to the secretariat.
We are a growing and thriving association in many ways. This autumn, two new members joined the council after elections and were inaugurated at the general assembly: our new treasurer, Cor Sluijter, and our new council member, Gill Stewart. Gill will be taking on the responsibility for the Publication Committee and will be working closely with our new newsletter editor. Gill and Cor will be a great asset to the association. At the same time, two important members have resigned from the council: Henk Moelands and Sandra Johnson. Between them, they served an impressive 13 years on the council. Such commitment is very important to us as a community, as this is how we secure continuity and a healthy association. We are thankful for all their efforts and welcome others to follow in their footsteps, either on a committee or on the council. Vacancies will be announced through our website and through emails to members.
We want our two committees to contribute significantly to the work of our association. To enable this, they need dedicated members who will offer their time for the good of all. I am delighted to welcome a new member to the Professional Development Committee, Stephanie Berger, who will focus mainly on the doctoral network. The Publication Committee needs extensive recruitment too, so please consider the call for members with editorial experience.
I think it is safe to say that our annual conference is considered the main activity of our organisation. This conference is where we all get to see each other and to listen, present, discuss, network and plan future cooperation, laugh, learn and share. We did a lot of that in Glasgow before Christmas much because we had such a dedicated local host in the University of Glasgow and, in particular, in Louise Hayword and George MacBride. They have spent a large number of hours and called on many personal favours to ensure we all had such a good time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed by presenting at the conference: keynotes, open paper presenters, discussion group leaders and poster presenters. It is you who bring the content to the conference, which is the reason we all come back year after year.
From the number of submissions we have seen for the past conferences, the council recognises the investment our members have in the association and our community. More and more people submit proposals, alone or together with co-authors, often from other countries and institutions. The offered programme has been growing over the past years, as has the number of conference participants. I welcome the growth, as it makes us more sustainable financially, but at the same time, I realise that we all need to make an effort to welcome new members into our community and to keep the spirit of AEA Europe. We are a tight-knit group, but like all fine knitwear, we should have the ability to expand without losing our elegance, form or function. For this, we need you all to actively contribute!
At the conference in Glasgow, I introduced you to the Norwegian term dugnad. A dugnad is when people come together, join forces and do good work as a joint effort, to help out and to achieve something, on a voluntary basis. As a membership organisation run by elected members and with annual conferences organised by other members, we contribute to a lot of dugnads. As I write this, several teams are working towards the conferences in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The website for the 2016 conference in Limassol, Cyprus, is open, and in a few days, the call will be announced, so we will be open for submissions. Submitting to the conference might be one way for you to contribute to the dugnad. We are convinced that this year’s theme of ‘Social and political underpinnings of educational assessment: Past, present and future’ will attract just as many submissions as past years and that you all will shortly be busy planning your proposals.
I would like to mention that there is one more possibility to influence the Limassol programme that I encourage you all to think about. Each year, the winner of the Cathleen Tattersall New Researcher Award gives a keynote speech as part of their prize. If you know someone early in their ‘assessment career’ who contributes significantly to the field of assessment, please tell them about the award and encourage them to apply when we open the call. If you yourself fit the criteria, you should also consider applying to be this year’s award winner. Please visit our webpage to read the eligibility criteria. Do not wait too long: the submission deadline is rapidly approaching.
We are a community, even though our members are dispersed throughout Europe and beyond. I always welcome comments, questions and messages from my fellow community members. I also wish you all a wonderful February.