The Features of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association History
- Lithuanian Educational Research Association (LERA) was founded on 24th of March in 1998 by the initiative of Kaunas University of Technology Educational Research Group. The aim of LERA, embeded in its Statutes of Association, is – to bring together Lithuanian educational research specialists, to join their efforts in improving educational research, implementing and promoting advanced education and training experience, and developing similar relations with international organisations.
- The Statutes of the LERA association have been adopted on 14 thin 1999. The highest managing body of the Association is – the General Meeting. The Executive – is the LETA management board, which consists of the president, secretary, treasurer, and committee chairs. If the Association has more than 50 members, a vice-president is elected. The residence of the Association was established in Kaunas, in the lodgments of the Institute of Education of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Kaunas University of Technology (20 Donelaičio St.). The first and long-term president of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association is prof. habilitated.dr. Palmira Jucevičienė. The president of LERA is also a former prof. dr. Vilma Žydžiūnaitė. Many researchers have been under status – secretaries, and treasurers; one of the most effective – dr. Andrius Eidimtas.
- The Lithuanian Educational Research Association was established following the example of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), because already during the development of LERA it was thought that one of the tasks of this Association is to become a collective member of EERA. By ensuring closer relations with researchers from European countries, smoother integration into European networks, with wider opportunities to get to know their experience more deeply, it was hoped to ensure a qualitative leap in Lithuanian educational research. Work in this direction was very intensive and the Lithuanian Association for Educational Research joined the European Association for Educational Research less than a year later (23rd February, 1999), and a few years later the President of LERA became a member of the EERA management board.
The Lithuanian Association for Educational Research was organized on the principle of thematic networks (as mentioned, following the example of EERA), the organisational activities of which were carried out by their committees. During the establishment of LERA, the following committees were formed and their chairs were elected:
High and Higher education – prof. P. Jucevičienė
General education of secondary schools – prof. K. Miškinis
Research of didactic systems and educational technologies – associate professor (later – prof.) L.Šiaučiukėnienė
Educational research and innovation information – 2011 (later – doc., prof.) B. Janiūnaitė
Preschool education – doc. (later – prof.) Juodaitytė
Education of young scientists – prof. K. Kardelis
Vocational education – prof. V. Šernas
Social education – doc. (later – prof.) I. Leliūgienė
Education Management – doc. (later – prof.) V. Targamadzė
Continuing and non-formal education – doc. (later – prof.) N. Večkienė
Educational methodologies, philosophies and histories – prof. V. Jakavičius
It was also intended to form a Special Education and Teacher Training network and its committee.
The established Lithuanian Educational Research Association has started its work. One of the most important works is to help the ongoing development of educational science in Lithuania from pedagogy to educology and especially to develop the culture of educational research, to bring it closer to the culture of Western research, first of all – European research. The big problem of educators in our country was that at that time the representatives of natural sciences who had the greatest influence on the management of Lithuanian science recognized only quantitative research based on a positivist attitude. Meanwhile, Lithuanian educators have already conducted qualitative research based on an interpretive paradigm. These research have been criticized by the above-mentioned representatives of natural sciences, although the interpretive approach has long been practiced by the collective members of the European Association for Educational Research, representing various countries.
2000 LERA implemented the program “Change in the Role and Principles of Educational Research: The Baltic States in the Context of Western Countries”.It was united with Estonian scientists, members of EERA. The European Association for Educational Research has been represented by prominent European and global researchers (according to EERA regulations, the Association could include researchers from all over the world, even European researchers) from Sweden (Prof. Lennart Svenson, Lund University), England (Prof. David Bridges, Cambridge University), Canada (Prof. Lorraine Savoie-Zajc, University of Quebeck) has started to help Lithuanian educators to broaden the horizons of Lithuanian research methodology. These scientists visited Lithuania periodically for one year and conducted methodological seminars. Not only our educators and doctoral students took part in them, but the main opponents of educators representatives of natural sciences, who participated in the country’s science management structures – were also invited to these seminars. It should be noted that these seminars had a significant impact on the ability of Lithuanian researchers of Educational Science to conduct not only quantitative but also qualitative research.
The Lithuanian Educational Research Association paid constant attention to the education of young researchers in doctoral studies. In order for more doctoral students to become members of LERA, prospective researchers were exempted from the LERA membership fee. At the initiative of specific university representatives who were active members of LERA, scientific conferences for doctoral students and their supervisors were organised.
Therefore, it has been noted that this cohort of researchers will need to be regenerated within 20 years (until 2031). If emphasized only the current state of the Lithuania country and did not seek to improve it, each year (over the next 20 years) it would have been necessary to admit approximately 30 doctoral students (considering that at the best 2/3 of doctoral students are defending their dissertations), to regenerate the cohort of doctors of education working in higher education.
However, it was considered that this is not enough: for our country to boost a leap in competitiveness, thus – and the development of a much more efficient than ever knowledge-based economy and knowledge-based learning society, efforts need to be focused on providing education for PhDs where they are needed (eg. in Germany, even upper secondary school principals have Ph.D. degrees). However, it was first necessary to investigate whether such a need is felt in Lithuanian education. To this end, an expert survey was conducted. 89 persons were interviewed, according to their positions and competence they are considered to be experts (representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, universities, colleges, education departments, management of education, and training centers). The research was surprised with its results: it was established that work in various Lithuanian educational positions (except for teachers of various subjects of education and heads of these departments – it was already clear) required about 2.7 thousand. Doctors of Education, so every year, starting from 2011, 400 doctoral students would have had to be admitted over ten years (including 2/3 of them defending their dissertations). True, the LERA position was more reserved on this issue. Assessing Lithuania’s financial situation and the needs of other fields of science, it was considered unrealistic. Therefore, the position was taken that at least 100 doctoral students in education should be admitted each year, formulating the topics of their dissertations very responsibly, creating individual study programs, and helping them to plan their careers. LETA also took the position that this problem should be addressed in no more than 10 years, because later the country’s backwardness, knowing the pace of development of Western countries in the 21st century, would be irrecoverable.
LERA paid close attention to communicationswith EERA support
The members of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association were constantly acquainted with the initiatives implemented by EERA,are encouraged to participate in the annual European Educational Research (ECER) conferences organised by EERA. According to the EERA website (https://eera-ecer.de/), Lithuanian educators presented an average of 11 scientific papers at this conference each year. True, participation activity varied from year to year. Lithuanian researchers presented a particularly large number of scientific papers in 2005 – as many as 35. Doctoral students of education, who have been reading papers at this conference since 2004, also had many opportunities. They were invited to summer schools, organised by EERA, were able to participate not only in the doctoral conference, but also in the training that took place a few days before the annual EERA conferences, and was offered various tax incentives.
LERA provided proposals and other initiatives for the Board of the European Association for Educational Research: questioned the possibility of citing scientific journals and, consequently, articles published in them in the European space (later EERA even took the initiative to carry out such an EU-funded project).
It was also suggested that the possibility of publishing valuable scientific articles based on papers presented at ECER conferences be extended.
LERA has consistently supported EERA civic initiatives,important for European social sciences,
and especially for educology.