Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

IOE Expert Speaks at International Conference by European Association for Research in Adolescence

This September, IOE research fellow Alexandra Bochaver traveled to the city of Ghent, Belgium to present at the 2018 Conference by the European Association for Research in Adolescence. In her talk, Alexandra gave a recap for a comprehensive cross-generational study of street activities among Russian adolescents.

In 2018, it was Ghent University (Belgium) that welcomed the 16th Conference of the European Association for Research in Adolescence (EARA).  

Bringing together scholars with perspectives in various theoretical and applied aspects of adolescence, EARA is committed to advancing high-caliber multidimensional research in Europe, pursuing initiatives to consolidate the global community of professionals in adolescence scholarship, and advising government agencies at different levels on issues of adolescent policy and support. EARA’s scope covers a broad array of research domains, such as socialization, risks of adolescent development and coping strategies, identity formation, physical and mental health, etc. EARA’s international research conferences have been held biennially since 1988.

This year, the EARA Forum welcomed about 450 leading experts in psychology, sociology and education from 44 countries, including the Netherlands, France, Norway, Finland, the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Slovakia, the USA, Canada, etc. Alongside Alexandra Bochaver of IOE, Russia was represented by scholars Natalia Gorlova (Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk), Kirill Khlomov (Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow) and Ksenia Tenisheva (HSE St. Petersburg).      

The Conference agenda centered upon various facets of adaptive behavior in adolescents (emotional self-regulation, prosocial behavior, maturity, social competence, resilience) and opportunities for facilitating positive adolescent development (parental support, good teacher–student relations, positive experiences in friendship and romantic relationships).

The Conference got underway with a lecture by Prof. Judith Smetana (University of Rochester, USA) where she focused on child–parent relations and strategies to facilitate adolescent autonomy. Specifically, Prof. Smetana spotlighted how various parental behaviors can shape different child sentiments toward disclosing intimate facts and feelings, e.g., being more open and inclined to engage in self-revelations or, by contrast, being reticent, hushing such things up, telling lies, etc.     

Day One of the 2018 EARA event hosted a series of presentations that sought to explore different fundamental frameworks and social aspects of adolescence, including key problems in transitioning to maturity and remedial strategies, the role of family and school in adolescent development, facilitating socialization of refugee children, etc. A lecture by Prof. Eva Pomerantz (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA) gave comparative insights into how the most wide-spread cultural conceptions of adolescence are correlated with empirical evidence about this development period based on data from China and the USA. It turns out that younger teenagers in China are more likely to exhibit positive attitudes to and socially aligned behaviors in schooling as compared to their American peers. This may be attributed to the fact that the conception of adolescence as a time of ‘storm and stress’ is less common in China, the study finds.      

Drawing in a top-tier cohort of professionals from across the globe, this year’s EARA event has provided a truly vibrant forum to learn and debate about the most relevant conceptual approaches and areas in adolescent research and applied work. In my presentation, I focused on the key findings from a recent study titled, ‘Street Activities among Russian Adolescents in Different Generations,’ which I carried out together with Dr. Katerina Polivanova, Academic Supervisor at the IOE Center for Modern Childhood Studies.   

Alexandra Bochaver 
Research Fellow, IOE Center for Modern Childhood Studies

Day Two was largely devoted to various aspects of adolescent support and development. As part of its multi-format discussions, the participants outlined best-practice strategies for helping mentally disturbed and addicted adolescents, preventing bullying, supporting resilience and self-regulation, etc. Special emphasis was made on how modern social institutions could better facilitate the adaptation and integration of refugee children, including by devising new multicultural policies best aligned with the present-day imperatives in empowering migrant social capital. A series of workshops that followed aimed to provide the participants with practical knowledge in such areas as working with adolescents who are susceptible to self-destructive behaviors and those suffering digestive disorders, designing strategies to promote autonomy and relevant social skills in children, as well as delivering remedial therapy to depression- and suicide-prone adolescents.        

On Day Three, the Conference participants discussed novelty conceptual frameworks and trends in the study of adolescence. These included such topics as narcissism, confronting discriminative behaviors, promoting respect for social diversity and inclusion, etc. Prof. Lisa Crockett (University of Nebraska–Lincoln, USA), one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 EARA Forum, delivered a lecture that explored the physiological, cultural and social contexts of adolescent sexuality. Dr. Crockett focused on the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ approaches to this domain of adolescent development, where the former emphasizes risks and the overall inappropriateness of engaging in sexual relationships during adolescence, whereas the latter, by contrast, recognizes sexual experiences among teenagers as an important foundation in building self-regulation and trusting relationships with others, which contributes to one’s well-being.        

As the 2018 Conference was drawing to its close, Prof. Eveline Crone (Leiden University, the Netherlands) gave a presentation about the role of brain development in shaping social behaviors in adolescents. Specifically, Dr. Crone shared novelty insights into the potential of neural responses in social learning (e.g., insofar as fast adaptation to various social conditions, building friendship and prosocial behavior are concerned).