Scientific projects

Areas of focus for the team's work

The work we will develop will start with building a relationship between lengthy disciplinary learning, on the one hand (associated value systems, curricula building: trajectories) and time-limited interactions in the classroom, on the other (establishing differential training contracts: situations). We consider issues concerning the efficiency and equity of the education system to be based upon this relationship.

The work will then focus on the building of relationships to learning subjects (socially controversial issues are one case, the obsolescence of academic disciplines is another). We will consider how knowledge needs are defined in society (sustainable development, language practice or the definition of a common bedrock of knowledge raise new questions in relation to civic culture). The issue of building social relations at school will also be examined (in areas where they are socially determined, or in relation to gender distinctions which play a role in choices linked to success and orientation). We feel that issues concerning a common bedrock of knowledge are part of this work.

The work will be conducted in the context of each body of educational content and, therefore, developed through a perspective of comparing content, institutions and regional areas.

This movement is the result of a clearly multidisciplinary team (CNU sections 05, 07, 16, 19, 26, 70), which brings together researchers from teams 1 and 3 of the previous quadrennium. It requires an epistemological reworking of the foundations and discussion and reorganisation of educational theories, in the context of their relationships with the anthropological sciences. This work has been carried out since the previous programme by the EtOS team. Its theoretical dimensions are growing with the development of the theory of joint action in education and a deepening of the anthropological theory of didactics (ATD). This work is presented and discussed at international conferences. The research develops from the observation and analysis of empirical phenomena, with the study of new phenomena derived from regional effects or the introduction of non-disciplinary learning subjects. It continues with the study of education existing outside of educational institutions, which allows for the testing of knowledge acquired previously.

We are thus seeking to develop a synergy between researchers who refer to an anthropological-type approach, an approach to a social phenomenon they call the school, an instituted form of training in social relations to knowledge, or didactics, the organisation of an entry into culture through study. The group, made up in this way, defines work themes and a joint seminar is held where the results and methodology are brought to the fore. Work teams are formed freely around these themes and are established for a fixed period of collaborative study on a specified subject, either as part of the response to an invitation to tender or in the context of a recognised project.

Thus, trajectories, situations, needs, distinctions and comparisons define the main types of questions we will ask in relation to our study subject - teaching and education. Training and the mutual conversion of educational and social provisions is thus the central issue we plan to tackle in the next four years, developing work which systematically articulates the biographical monitoring of individuals, the historical monitoring of social organisations and, at the same time, a description of how social knowledge needs are met, or fail to be met, in schools. On this last issue, specific to teaching approaches, we will propose ways to intervene, including the production of teaching resources.

Four directions of research: Comparative approaches to teaching

Our entry point here is an analysis comparing several disciplines and teaching environments, considering them in the context of the learning situations associated with them and, beyond this, their social environment. The connection is obvious for the teaching of foreign languages, but there has been little research into its effective interactional determinations, for example in the case of schooling migrants, which raises the question of the language spoken and written at school, and the conditions for its learning.

We could argue that: on the one hand, teaching situations with certain identified properties are necessary, in the classroom, in order to transmit knowledge with the desired epistemological properties; on the other hand, for schools to be able to transmit knowledge with these epistemological properties, society must have a clear vision of the challenges of this educational requirement. These two systems of constraints are the subject of a joint study of comparative approaches.

Initial work has already highlighted shifts in the didactisation process (in teaching French as a foreign language, as a result of the 'Cultures d’Enseignement, Cultures d’Apprentissage' Project by the ADEF, FIPF and AUF), and even flaws in this process.

Socio-educational and regionalised approaches to socially controversial issues

The priority for this four-year period will be to bring together different approaches - mainly sociological, sociolinguistic, educational and regional - to socially controversial issues (teaching globalisation, education for sustainable development), for example in the context of the activity of observatories, and in partnership with other ADEF research teams, along with other regional, national, European and international teams.

These original approaches - which have, in particular, enabled us to highlight the effects of regionality and regional specificities on education - have already been implemented on the ground, in a wide variety of contexts (rural schools, peri-urban areas). They have shown how parents and students develop personal strategies in relation to the school world to which they have access. The effects of these are collective. This should allow for a better understanding of the challenges of 'civic' education and the effects of the co-construction of knowledge, along with identities - social and subjective, epistemic and professional - in line with the development of the concept of 'territorial intelligence'.

Development of the anthropological theory of didactics

This research program is organised in three dimensions, corresponding to the major types of choices inherent in educational institutions: the choice of knowledge to be disseminated (praxeologies), the choice of teaching situations in which this dissemination should take place and the choice of training pathways. The 'praxeological choice' variable is combined with two other variables: the 'target group' variable (e.g. students in educational sciences) and the 'praxeological environment' variable (e.g. research and statistics methodology). Essentially, the target groups studied consist of: a) pupils in secondary education, b) students and researchers in educational sciences/didactics, c) mathematics teachers in secondary education, d) students in engineering schools. The praxeological environments are, essentially: 1) knowledge of mathematics, 2) knowledge of information retrieval on the Internet, 3) knowledge of sustainable development, 4) knowledge of research, including statistics and data analysis, 5) knowledge of the production and editing of texts, 6) didactic knowledge of study and teaching, both face to face and remotely.

Approaches to uses of information and communication technologies

The growing use of ICT, especially the Internet, is a social fact in the world of work and in the private sphere. The idea is to anticipate the problems these uses pose for educational institutions and to identify the potential of these technologies in education and training. In the current climate, digital campuses and IT environments for human learning fall within the range of teaching aids available to students in higher education.

These devices generate new behaviours. The participation of Internet users in projects, whether spontaneous or directed, gives rise to particular groups or 'communities' bringing education and/or training projects to the fore. Through research, we should be able to analyse the impact of these social phenomena, their effectiveness and the resources on which they draw, at the same time questioning the ethics of the practices and knowledge produced and disseminated.

The team's contribution to the development of research group thematics

The knowledge transmission/appropriation process

The teaching of school subjects was initially the main focus of educational questioning in a school environment, with observation of experienced practitioners. The learning process was the central subject of psychological questioning in laboratories, where we could observe the development of relationships to world objects. Today, however, the focus placed by educationalists on knowledge and the construction of knowledge organised in its natural educational environment no longer has the same meaning, since the techniques for accessing observations have changed. Thus, the weight of linguistic interactions between peers in the production of a collective thinking space is at the heart of educational work today. Monitoring the development of professionalism in the education professions is central to much of the work we carry out. This movement is the result of our 'field' work (i.e.: our work outside of the laboratory). It is thus situational, within the space of interaction between a teacher and their pupils with the aim of sharing knowledge. The issue here is the production of knowledge which is collectively built. The questions to which the actions of teachers and pupils provide answers no longer fall under a single discipline. They are related to a complex common activity, in a shared, so-called 'reference' environment. This issue characterises the ACADIS group, but will henceforth be reflected in most of the unit's teams and groups for the next quadrennium.

Professionalism and professionalisation of teaching, education and training professions

The initial purpose of didactics was to train teachers in an area little studied by the then dominant approaches on educational issues: philosophy (applied to education: general pedagogy), psychology (applied to education: scientific pedagogy) or sociology. The specific focus didactics placed on knowledge led us to observe the life of knowledge in the human group we call a class (anthropological theory of didactics), followed by the conditions of this life (its ecology) and the systems of constraints that determine its evolution. Is researching new solutions to teachers' issues now the main subject of disciplinary teaching approaches? The comparative position we have taken in the ACADIS group leads us, firstly, to also observe the pupils' involvement in the educational process (theory of joint action), to show how they are sometimes decisive protagonists in the teaching process for which the teacher has professional responsibility. Today, we are interested in the didactical issues raised in non-school conditions, where we observe the process of didactification, that is to say, the social predominance of school-type approaches as a universal response to social needs in terms of knowledge.

Educational and/or training institutions

The ACADIS team examines the relationship between 'sociological' approaches and 'didactical' approaches in the context of institutions implementing their own educational projects, driven by society or any of its components in the direction of a social group within a particular local area, or society as a whole. The synergies expected from this group lie principally within this area. We focus on knowledge production in terms of processes for forming knowledge-related provisions, in terms of their personal, and also collective, dimensions: regionalities, for example. We also examine knowledge production in terms of the reverse movement. We define this as a process of didactical conversion of social subjugation, some dimensions of which are undoubtedly determined by regional strategies.

Team goals

Specified subjects in relation to the four main themes will guide ACADIS' work throughout the next four years. We will have the possibility of forming several teams to focus on the subjects of a single theme. Around this, we will organise seminars open to all members of the group. The idea is to systematically conduct debates - we feel that the initial diversity of approaches demands this. These debates will involve shared reference subjects (at least in part). Team work will centre upon the observation of a particular scenario, or the monitoring of a phenomenon deriving from one of the theoretical approach the group is seeking to develop. The teams will thus bring their empirical work to the debate. Nevertheless, the research work, as well as collaborative action with individuals working on the ground, will also involve the construction of interpretations, which will be the result of joint work. We plan to organise three international conferences with the Association pour des Recherches Comparatives en Didactique (January 2013), on the ATD (November 2013) and, most probably, on Territorial Strategies related to schools or the teaching of French as a Foreign Language (dates not yet determined). This will enable us to tackle the issues raised with other teams from around the world.

Finally, it should be noted that many members of ACADIS are involved in one of the multidisciplinary components of SFERE, the federal research organisation. This allegiance is shown in the list of the members of each team. This reflects our desire to open up educational issues to the sciences of society, such as cognitive science, since our focus lies precisely at the interface between these two recognised fields

Scientific activities

Publication policy

Scientific Publications

The team's international publications are in line with the current state of our collaborations. We note that Spanish is just as present as English. This no doubt demonstrates an orientation towards a world of great importance. However, we have more difficulty when it comes to our relationship with the countries of northern Europe, or those who have taken on board the fact that English is the European language of science. We have a proactive policy on this issue. We cannot continue, as it has been the case so far, to limit ourselves to isolated instances of publications in special issues of international journals. Our stated goal is to publish in English, including in French journals. The challenge here is to open the scientific debate with the English-speaking scientific community in Europe. We will therefore work with an established English mother tongue translator so that he can enable us, collectively, to enter into the debates concerning us and so that he can follow, with us, the development of the references we will learn to share.

Policy on the development and dissemination of research results

We produce a lot of information for dissemination, including documents designed for training and education protagonists. This goes well beyond our more traditional interventions in terms of face-to-face or remote training. Many of our research lecturers also produce work for publication (books on education, books for education, professional resources for teachers, editing of multimedia resources for educational protagonists, production of multimedia investigative techniques to be used in the classroom, etc.).

This policy, which generally characterises the laboratory, corresponds to both the issues on which we are working and the explicit request of the INRP and its governing bodies. This makes us well placed in terms of our mixed tutelage, the INRP and Provence University, responsible for teacher training and, more broadly, the training of training professionals.

Development policy for projects, agreements, national and international relations

We are now able to draw upon the INRP's effective international department, as well as the European experience of Provence University's international department. This should lead us (in conjunction with the publication policy described above) to succeed in a greater number of European tender responses. This is a virtuous circle into which we need to enter. The explicit choice of certain international organisations should also assist us. To this end, we have a proactive participation policy (we are represented in the organising committees of major international conferences: CERME and PME for mathematics, ECER for comparative didactics, AFIRSE and AREF for education).

Participation in networks

The entire ACADIS group is committed to the INRP's 'Very Large Documentary Infrastructure' project at PRES Lyon, with the VISA project (to create a database for research into videos of learning situations, a national PPF involving the majority of French education science laboratories).

On research topic #1, we are working in partnership with the OPHRIS observatory (Disability practice observatory: educational research and intervention). This is a network of researchers from the Universities of Provence, Nice, Montpellier 1 and INSHEA.

On research topic #3, we are working in partnership with the network of the Inter-IREM Commission on Didactics, within which the AMPERES project is taking place.

Topic #4 is associated with INRP project 39141 (480 HCTD)

Various collaborations are being set up on a national level (research groups from ESO Caen, ENFA-Toulouse, 'Interdisciplinary Research Group for socially controversial issues in didactics' (GRID- QSV), as well as an international level (Europe, Americas, Africa, etc.). The aim is to broaden the scope of our research on social and regional contexts in education (EDU 13460 - University of Barcelona, ALCOTRA France-Italy, project to study the education of Inuit communities in Quebec, etc.), and to extend our research to issues of graduate integration (EU 'Job Life' programme, FP7).

The Emeritus Professors in our group are members of several associations of researchers: AECSE, AFIRSE international (Administrative Committee member), AIRDF (President), APC, ARCD (Administrative Committee member), ARDM (President), ECER, ICME, PME, SOPHIED.

Within the field of mathematics education, Yves Matheron is President of the ARDM.

Christiane Peyron-Bonjan is a member of the AFIRSE's Administrative Committee.

Calls for Tenders and projects funded

  • Education for Sustainable Development, support and obstacles

2009-2012 - ANR-08-BLAN-0135-03: (ED2AO). Project leader: Jean-Marc LANGE, UMR STEF; UMR ADEF manager: Alain Legardez. Purpose of the contract: To study issues related to ESD, especially in terms of support and obstacles. Total contract amount: €68,000 funded by the ANR. Other partners: UMR STEF-ENS Cachan, MNHS-Paris, ENFA-Toulouse.

Brief description of the contract: To study curricula, school teaching and non-academic training in relation to ESD issues, from the point of view of support and obstacles, with a twofold aim: research and enlightenment for the reflection and practice of those involved.

  • Job-LIFE project: “Future jobs for a better life”

2011-2013 - Scientific manager: Jean-Jacques GIRARDOT, University of Franche-Comté. Project leader: Elen GUY, CNRS. 'C' Manager (Communication, culture, education and dissemination for new development trajectories): Cyril MASSELOT, University of Franche-Comté. Total contract amount: €10,000,000 (overall project). WPCED1 (education) - leader Alain Legardez – UP-ADEF. Purpose of the contract: “Future jobs (for a) better life”, or Job-LIFE for short, is a project responding to the last call for projects from the 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities of the European Union, on the theme 'Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities' of the Cooperation Work Programme 2010.

  • CECA: "Teaching cultures, learning cultures'

2008-2013 - Scientific manager: Jean-Pierre Cuq, University of Nice, UMR ADEF. Total contract amount: €1,000 (overall project). With the help of Agence de la Francophonie, this project will compare the teaching of French as a foreign language in all the countries where such teaching is carried out. This will be done not from the perspective of defining teaching content but, rather, what is actually done in the classroom. This project will bring together teachers of French as a foreign language from all these countries. Shared tools for didactic analysis will be constructed, allowing for comparisons to be made.

  • Ampères

2009-2012 - Scientific Manager: Alain Mercier, INRP, UMR ADEF. Project leader: Yves Matheron, working for the INRP (2008-2012), ADEF. Total contract amount: €32,000 paid in hours for the collaboration of 40 Middle and High School teachers. Teaching resource production project (study and research pathway - PER)...

  • Resource production school, Saint Charles

2009-2013 - Scientific Manager: Alain Mercier, INRP, UMR ADEF. Project leader: Serge Quilio, working for the INRP (2009-2013), ADEF. Total contract amount: €28,000 paid in hours for the collaboration of the whole education team from an elementary school.

  • OPHRIS Observatory (disability integration observatory)

2009-2013 - Scientific Manager: Teresa Assude, UMR ADEF. Project leader: Teresa Assude (2009-2013), ADEF. Total contract amount: €24,000 paid to teachers in hours.

International Relations

International relations are mainly being developed with Belgium (co-supervision of theses and research cooperation, involvement in an FNRS 'contact group' - these recognised scientific relationships have led the University of Liege to award Yves Chevallard an honorary doctorate), Switzerland (co-supervision of theses, response to a PIREF call for tenders and research cooperation around 'la maison des petits'), Lebanon (co-supervision of theses with Hicham Bannout at the Lebanese university, one completed and two in progress), Italy (ongoing Franco-Italian Seminar on Algebraic Learning - SFIDA) and Argentina. We have regular, established relationships with Algeria, where Michèle Artaud is involved in doctoral training and supervises doctoral work on mathematics education (...). We are also committed to similar negotiations with Vietnam.

Research supervision


Our aim is to no longer leave students to define their research interests, as is now the tradition in education. Indeed, in defining a scientific line to be built, we are working on the assumption that doctoral work will produce the empirical results we need and which interest our researchers. Masters thesis subjects will therefore be proposed by ACADIS group research lecturers and engineers. The challenge is to ensure that work which proves promising is studied at doctoral level by the best students.

Six themes will guide the doctoral work throughout the next quadrennium. Monitoring of PhDs will take place in this context.

  • Theme 1 Pupils with 'special educational needs': study contexts and conditions, effects on learning
  • Theme 2 Comparative approaches in the teaching of languages and cultures
  • Theme 3 Obsolescence factors and discipline renewal conditions
  • Theme 4 Socially controversial issues and 'education for...': current issues and foreseeable developments
  • Theme 5 Development and dissemination of tools, know-how and knowledge for study, teaching and research
  • Theme 6 Contexts and regionalities for the building of knowledge and identities


We are developing work which, depending on the methods of investigation, involves statistical handling, case studies and monographs or clinical-type studies for both tools and protagonists. However, we are gradually focusing our interest in didactic analysis on the construction of observation systems, combining macroscopic approaches with microscopic observations at points of time or in contexts chosen for the information we hope to glean. This type of work involves the analysis of both linguistic and gestural interactions, on the one hand, and representations of their daily effects and their slow developments, on the other.

Results expected at the end of the quadrennium

Our ambitious scientific goal can be expressed in a simple manner: achieving a better understanding of the effectiveness of training and education systems, in terms of their relationships to the target groups they are seeking to educate and train, with the knowledge that social groups need, along with the knowledge available. We seek to train doctors who will become recognised experts on these issues, employable throughout Europe.

Other elements

We are working on the ethical rules defining our relationship as researchers to those involved in education, such as teachers and pupils, whose behaviour we capture to analyse, interpret and understand. The annual ViSA seminar allows us to work on these issues. In a more general sense, when we conduct experiments and enquiries, participants are informed of the identity of the researcher, the purpose of the study and the dissemination of results. Anonymity is guaranteed. Parental permission is required in the event that the pupils studied are children. Nevertheless, these are new questions and we will closely monitor the effects of the increasingly rapid process whereby 'real' images are processed and become the subject of analysis and key points in an 'editorialisation' process.”