Announcement Archives

Leadership Team Update

November 14, 2013

Greetings SIG members!

Welcome to the first of what we is planned to become a series of regular monthly updates on events and other matters of interest to SIG members. There's no set format as of yet, so we encourage suggestions for content and, most definitely, contributions. These could come in the form of: (a) interesting/useful information, resources, or articles for sharing with members, (b) position listings or other opportunities you are aware of, (c) thought questions to pose to members (we'll even publish responses in succeeding updates), and (d) events, conferences, or other interesting activities that are coming up. This isn't an exhaustive list - we're very open to suggestions and contributions from any of our SIG members. 

You can send your comments, suggestions, and contributions to Jan Noga (, one of our SIG's current co-chairs.

We have two main items of interest for this inaugural update:

  1. Program update for SIG-sponsored sessions for the upcoming Annual Meeting
  2. Call for nominations for officers
  3. SIG initiatives in the works


The 2014 Annual Meeting will be held in Philadelphia from April 3-7, 2014. The theme is "The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy". The primary site of the Annual Meeting is the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The headquarter hotels where sessions will be held are the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, and Loews Philadelphia. 

AERA sent out notices of submission acceptance/rejection earlier this month. If you submitted a proposal to our SIG, or to any other division or SIG, and have not received official notification, you may want to contact AERA ( to find out the status of your submission.

Submissions were down across the board this year, and our SIG was no exception. We received a record low in terms of number of submissions, so few that we were not able to fill our entire allocation. Although specific schedule details won't be known until the release of the program in early February, we can tell you the SIG will be sponsoring 2 full sessions plus our business meeting in Philadelphia.

Our paper session is titled "Systems Thinking as a Paradigm for Understanding Teaching and Learning". It's focus is on the use of systems thinking as a means to better understand processes of teaching and learning across different perspectives and learning contexts and will feature 3 papers plus a discussant.

Our invited session was created to reflect the conference theme with specific application for the role of systems thinking in educational research, practice, and policy. The session is titled "When Evidence-Based Meets Reality: The Role of Systems Thinking in Educational Research and Practice in the 21st Century". The intent of this session is to provide an opportunity for SIG members and other interested attendees to engage in a facilitated discussion around the the role of systems thinking for promoting innovation in educational research, practice, and policy. The session will be facilitated by Royce Holladay of the Human Systems Dynamics Institute in Minnesota and Leslie Patterson from the College of Education at the University of North Texas. Our goal for this session is to explore and articulate the role of systems thinking in the field and to identify steps that the SIG and that we, as individual systems thinkers, can take to move forward. Two ideas that we would like the SIG to explore include: (1) how to begin building a community of practice focused on systems thinking, and (2) developing a proposal for a SIG-sponsored research/working conference.

The business meeting will continue the work started in the invited session (we hope - the scheduling request has been made). The meeting will include a facilitated discussion to build from the discussions during last year's business meeting as well as those from the invited session. Using principles drawn from Adaptive Action, Royce Holladay of the HSD Institute and Leslie Patterson of the University of North Texas will lead us in exploring how the SIG and its members can engage in promoting systems thinking as a critical paradigm for engaging in research and program design in education. We would like to use the results of this discussion as a basis for designing a SIG-sponsored research conference and for building a community of practice around systems thinking.


Annual elections for AERA governance, divisions, and SIGs will start January 15, 2014. The Systems Thinking in Education SIG is soliciting nominations for the following leadership positions:

  • SIG co-chair
  • Program co-chair (full term)
  • Program co-chair (partial term, to fill vacancy)

We have recently amended the SIG by-laws to expand officer terms to two years, with co-chairs being elected in alternate years. This will help to ensure greater continuity from year to year. Due to an unfilled vacancy from last year, we currently have two program positions open - one for the full term of two years and one for a partial term of one year. New leadership team members take office immediately following the annual meeting.

If you are interested in running for one of these positions, or wish to nominate someone to run, please submit your nominations NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 30 to Sunnie Watson, SIG secretary by email ( Nominations must include the following information:

  • Name
  • Office for which the nominee is running
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • Contact information (for our purposes only, not for inclusion on the ballot)
  • Biographical statement (250 words max)

AERA election guidelines require a minimum of two nominees for each position on the ballot. Please do consider throwing your hat in the ring!


The SIG is at a crossroads. By last April, membership had fallen to a low of 89, although we've seen an uptick during the fall membership renewal season. Currently, the SIG has 127 members. But, we need to begin to strategize how to continue that growth and how to bring new researchers and practitioners into the systems thinking fold. In the December update, we'll include a report on the discussion that occurred during the 2013 SIG business meeting in San Francisco.

A critical priority this year is to provide opportunities for member input and participation as we plan ways for the SIG to serve as both a community hub and a support for our members. We hope you will plan to attend the annual meeting in Philadelphia and participate in our discussions. But, we also understand that conference travel is getting more difficult as budgets tighten. Over the next month or so, the leadership team will begin to explore avenues for participation and continuing discussion that do  not rely on being present at the conference each year. We want to make sure member voices are heard as we strategize how to move the SIG forward. And, please, feel free to share your reactions, ideas, and suggestions any time. For now, send your thoughts via email to Jan Noga ( Soon, we'll begin providing more ways to interact as a community starting with a LinkedIn group - watch for the invitation and link to the group coming soon.

That's our update for this month. We'll be back with more in December. Until then, please, don't hesitate to contact any of us with ideas, thoughts, comments, questions, or offers of assistance. We'd love to hear from you.

Your SIG leadership team

Bill Watson, SIG co-chair (
Jan Noga, SIG co-chair (
Sunnie Watson, SIG secretary (

Kathleen Crowley, SIG program chair (
Chad Green, SIG webmaster (

Coming in December:

  • Report on 2013 SIG business meeting in San Francisco
  • SIG by-laws for review and comment
  • Slate of nominees for 2014 elections