The main goal of LERA is to bring together Lithuanian specialists of educational research and to consolidate their efforts in development, implementation and promotion of progressive educational research practices and to expand analogous connections with international organizations.
LERA objectives are as follows:
- To create a system of accumulation, analysis and dissemination of the experience of Lithuanian and foreign educational research;
- To promote cooperation between universities and other higher education or research institutions in order to organize and improve educational research:
- with educational policy makers, Government and various funds;
- with foreign educational research associations and the European Association for the Study of Educational Institutions for the purpose of collective membership of the latter;
- with researchers of other fields.
- To initiate and support educational studies relevant to Lithuanian and international scientific community;
- To encourage discussions about the quality, objectives, content and methodology of educational research;
- To foster an independent educational research culture;
- To improve the training of scientists involved in educational research and to defend their rights and aspire towards better working conditions;
- To organize conferences, symposiums, seminars and other events;
- To organize publishing of literature that informs about the latest educational research in Lithuania and abroad;
History of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association
- The Lithuanian Educational Research Association (LERA) was founded 24 March 1998 on the initiative of the Education Science Group of Kaunas University of Technology. The objective of LETA, set out in its Articles of Association, is to bring together specialists in Lithuanian educational research, to combine their efforts in improving educational research, in introducing and promoting advanced educational experience, in expanding similar relationships with international organisations.
- The Articles of Association of LERA were adopted on 14 April 1999. The highest governing body of the Association is the general meeting. The Board of LETA, consisting of the President, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Chairmen of the Committee holds the executive power. If the Association has more than 50 members, the vice president is elected. The headquarters of the Association were established in Kaunas, in the premises of Kaunas University of Technology, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Institute of Education (at the address: Donelaičio St. 20). The first president of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association, who held her office for the longest period of time, was Prof. Dr habil. Palmira Jucevičienė. Prof. Dr Vilma Zydžiūnaitė also been the president of LERA. Lots of scientists have been in the status of the secretary and treasurer; one of the most effective of them was Dr. Andrius Eidimtas.
- The Lithuanian Educational Research Association was incorporated following the example of the European Educational Research Association (EERA), whereas even during the incorporation of LERA, it was already thought that one of the objectives of this Association was to become a collective member of the EERA. Having ensured closer relationships with researchers from European countries, smoother integration into European networks, having wider opportunities to know deeper their experience, it was expected to ensure a qualitative leap in Lithuanian educational research. Lots of very intensive works were performed in this direction and the Lithuanian Education Research Association joined the European Association for Educational Research even after one not full year (on 23 February 1999), and after a few years the President of LERA became a member of the EERA Board.
The Lithuanian Association of Educational Research was organized on the principle of thematic networks (as mentioned, following the example of EERA), the thematic activity was carried out by their networks. At the time of the foundation of LETA, the following networks were formed and their chairmen elected:
- Higher education – prof. P. Jucevicienė
- General education and secondary schools – prof. K. Miškinis
- Research on Didactic Systems and Educational Technologies – Assoc. prof. (later Prof.) L.Šiaučiukėnienė
- Information Science for Research and Innovation – 2011 (later – assoc. prof.) B. Janiūnaitė
- Pre-school education – assoc. prof. (later prof.) A. Juodaitytė
- Young Scientist Education – prof. K. Kardelis
- Vocational Education – prof. V. Šernas
- Social Education – Assoc.prof. (later prof.) I. Leliūgienė
- Education Management – assoc. prof. (later prof.) V. Targamadze
- Continuing and non-formal education – assoc. prof. (later prof.) N. Večkienė
- Educational Methodology, Philosophy and History – prof. V. Jakavicius
It was also planned to form the Special Education and Teacher Training Network.
The Lithuanian Educational Research Association has taken work. One of the most important works is to assist the development of Educational science in Lithuania from Pedagogy to Educology and, in particular, to develop the culture of educational research, to bring it closer to the Western world, first of all, to the European research culture. A major problem for educators in our country was that at that time the representatives of natural sciences that had the most influence on the management of Lithuanian science, recognized only quantitative, positivist-based research. Meanwhile, Lithuanian education scientists have already carried out qualitative research based on an interpretative paradigm. These studies received criticism from the aforementioned representatives of natural sciences, although the interpretive approach has already been practiced by members of the European Association for Educational Research, representing different countries.
In the year 2000 LERA implemented the program “The Change in the Role and Principles of Educational Research: The Baltic States in the Context of Western Countries”. The activities were implemented in cooperation with Estonian scientists – the members of EERA. The prominent European and global scientists, who were representing European Educational Research Association (according to EERA regulations, this association could include members not only form Europe, but also from all over the world) from Sweden (prof. Lennart Svenson, University of Lund), England (prof. David Bridges, University of Cambridge) and Canada (prof. Lorraine Savoie-Zajc, University of Quebeck) took initiative to help Lithuanian educators to expand the horizons of research methodology in Lithuania. These scientists periodically arrived in Lithuania for one year and conducted methodological seminars. Not only researchers and doctoral students from the field of educational sciences participated in these seminars, but also the main opponents of education scientists – representatives of natural sciences who participated in the country’s scientific management structures – were invited as well. It should be noted that these seminars and workshops have had a significant impact on the ability of Lithuanian education researchers to improve their abilities and skills, when performing not only quantitative but also qualitative research projects.
The Lithuanian Educational Research Association has paid constant attention to the development of young researchers – especially – doctoral students. In order to increase number of doctoral students as LERA members, doctoral students were exempted from the LERA membership fee. By the initiative of the representatives of concrete universities, who were active members of LERA, scientific conferences for doctoral students and their supervisors were organized.
In the year 2011 by the initiative of LERA, an investigation into the future needs of education researchers in Lithuania was carried out. At the time of the research, it was diagnosed that the majority of the researcher group under investigation consisted of persons over 45 years of age. Therefore, it has been observed that within 20 years (until 2031) only this cohort of the researchers will need to be regenerated. If Lithuania only emphasized the current state of the country and did not seek to improve it, every year (over the next 20 years), about 30 doctoral students would have to be admitted to doctoral studies in the field of education (taking into account that, at best, two thirds of the doctoral students receives PhD degree), so that in the higher education cohort of doctors of education at that time would be regenerated.
However, it was considered to be insufficient: in order to leap competitiveness, including a more efficient development of knowledge economy and learning society, a focus has to be placed on supplying the appropriate sectors of the education system with the staff holding a Doctoral degree. For example, in Germany, most of the heads of upper secondary-schools hold a Doctoral degree. First, an investigation into the need for the above-introduced situation in Lithuania was demanded. For that purpose, an expert survey was carried out, and 89 persons were interviewed considering their responsibilities, competencies and held positions treated as those of experts (representatives of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Lithuania, universities, colleges, education departments, executives of education and training centers). The conducted survey surprisingly demonstrated that approximately 2,7 thousand of Doctors of Educational Sciences were required for work in different positions taken in the education system of Lithuania (except for the teachers of different subjects of education and the Heads of these departments). Thus, annually, starting from 2011, 400 doctoral degree students (considering that the two-thirds of them will defend their theses) should be trained within ten years. Lithuanian Educational Research Association (LERA) has a more reserved position on this issue: the assessment of the financial situation in Lithuania and the needs of other fields of science have been considered far from realistic. Therefore, at least 100 doctoral students every year have been weighed as a suitable option for a very responsible formulation of thesis topics, setting up individual study programmes and offering assistance in the pursuance of a successful career. LERA has also supported a position that the previously mentioned problem should be solved within the period not exceeding ten years; otherwise, the subsequent backwardness of the country can hardly progress in light of the paces of development in western countries in the 21st century.
LERA has focused on maintaining links with EERA
Members of the Lithuanian Educational Research Association have been continuously introduced to the EERA’s initiatives and are encouraged to participate in the annual ECER’s conferences organized by EERA. According to the EERA website (https://eera-ecer.de/), Lithuanian education researchers presented an average of 11 scientific reports annually at this conference. True, the participation activity was different in different years. Lithuanian scientists presented a lot of scientific reports in the year of 2005 – even 35. Many doctoral students of educational sciences also had opportunities to read reports at this conference since 2004. They were invited to summer camps organized by EERA, were able to attend not only doctoral conferences, but also in trainings held several days before the annual EERA conferences, they were offered various tax benefits for their participation.
LERA has provided suggestions and other initiatives to the board of the European Education Research Association: raised the issue of the creation of scientific journals and, accordingly, the creation of the possibility of articles published in the European space (later EERA even took the initiative to carry out this type of EU-funded project), and proposed to expand the possibility of publishing valuable scientific articles prepared on the basis of reports read at ECER conferences.
LERA has consistently supported EERA civic initiatives relevant to European social sciences, and in particular to education science.