Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of Education

Graduate School of Education



Drs Hernández-Torrano and Courtney Complete Collaborative Writing Camp in Germany

GSE Scholars, Drs Daniel Hernández-Torrano and Matthew Courtney have recently returned from a writing camp in collaboration with Philipps Universitat, Marburg, and GESIS - Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences, Mannheim. 

After presenting their research on international large-scale assessment of children at an international conference, the two researchers received a special invitation to attend a one-week writing camp in Mannheim, Germany in early September. Below, we ask the two scholars about their trip…

Can you explain the focus of the research collaboration?

Well, we have expertise in bibliometric research where we use statistical methods to analyze and report on a large body of research on a specific topic. For example, we recently published one such journal article that provided review of all educational research in post-Soviet countries, and another article on modern international large-scale assessment focusing on child outcomes. Our colleagues were interested in applying this approach for mapping the research on the international assessment of adult competencies.

So, how did you end up getting invited to the camp?

We were invited to present the findings from one of our bibliometric studies at The International PIAAC Research Conference 2022 and it piqued the interest of our German colleagues. A couple of months after presenting, we got an invitation from both institutions. We were excited that our research was so well received and that we had an opportunity to work with other top academics in the field.

Can you describe the focus of your collaboration?

While our early conference presentation focused on mapping researched focused on international large-scale assessment of children (e.g., PISA and TIMSS&PIRLS), our current work focusses on research about the international assessment of adult skills and competencies (PIAAC: The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, OECD).

The main goal of the camp was to work on a co-authored journal publication that provides a general description of all PIAAC-related scholarship, map the trends in the development of the field, and understand how well researchers mange the technical aspects in this area. We also have another technical paper planned that contributes to the methodology used in bibliometric research.

What did the writing camp look like?

The camp was hosted by GESIS institute in Mannheim, which is the global leading institution on PIAAC-related research. The camp lasted five days and we worked together for eight to ten hours a day in the same conference room, brainstormed ideas, worked on troubleshooting, tested results, and the drafted manuscripts that we intent to submit for publication shortly. We worked in a modern building close to Mannheim University alongside the leaders of the project and a number of masters and PhD students who supported the project. 

Can you tell us anything else about your writing camp?

Our colleagues were very welcoming and wanted to make sure that we also got the chance to learn about Mannheim and its history. They organized a short tour by an historian for us which was one of the highlights of our camp. We also had a chance to meet leadership of the GESIS institute and we shared GSE’s mission to implement cutting-edge research, reform and modernize the Kazakhstani education system, and to be a flagship for educational research in the region.

Are there any future collaborations planned?

Yes, we discussed further common interests and possibility to engage on other joint ventures, deliver workshops capitalizing on our quantitative research skills, and apply for international research grants.