Understanding research with children and young people
Understanding research with children and young people

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Understanding research with children and young people

5 Getting the adults involved

In the ‘Listening Project’ you have just been looking at, the focus was on finding ways for adults to listen effectively to children, in this case very young children. Creating good conditions for children and young people to take part in research involves creating an environment where people of all ages recognise their interdependence and diversity, and feel comfortable expressing their views alongside each other. Empowering children and young people as participants in research has the potential to redress some of the balance in terms of the way in which adults dominate the world of research. It means that children and young people have an opportunity to present their own understandings and interpretations in ways that they choose, rather than adults directing their participation in the research and interpreting ideas on their behalf.

It is important that adults think carefully about their own influence and how it impacts on the research if the research is to reflect children and young people’s perspectives.

In the final sections of this Session, you are going to think about adults’ involvement in research with children and young people. You may start to consider your own research project, what that might be and what role you might play in it, while keeping in mind the rights of the children and young people to be fully involved.

In this next clip, you are going to hear an interview in which a researcher, Alison, talks about a research project she carried out. There are some activities to follow, which you may like to look at first, so you can keep the questions in mind as you listen.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 1
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Transcript: Audio 1

Victoria
So the representation of children – is that something that has interested you in your career, Alison?
Alison
Absolutely. And I too was a practitioner myself but I had moved into researching the professional learning of teachers and educators. And I had moved into sort of looking at social media, and how social media had come into our lives, and how that might be harnessed for professional learning, and how it’s being used with children and young people in schools. As I started to explore the attitudes and use of the teachers and educators, I realised that actually we really needed to explore the world of the children and young people, and to bring that voice to the table. And talk about personal motivations, I mean, was part of my own curiosity of how to engage with this social media in a safe but really useful way, to have to harness it whilst also dealing with the ethicality of it. And so I did bring teachers and children from a wide range of ages together with educators through the Festival of Social Science into creating a social media charter. And, through that, we then used the social media charter with work with the charity and looking at widening participation with disadvantaged children, and working with them to explore how digital literacy could be developed, and to hear that children’s voice strongly and let the teachers and educators working with them to hear that voice.
End transcript: Audio 1
Audio 1
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Activity 6

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.

What was the purpose of Alison’s research?

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How and why did she involve children and young people?

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What was the result of her research?

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Discussion

She wanted to examine the role of social media in schools and professional practice.

She realised that the voices of the children and young people were actually more important and that they should be ‘brought to the table’ along with the voices of the teachers and professionals.

They created a social media charter.

This research involved the voices of the children and young people but it had been initiated by an adult.

What do you think were the challenges Alison faced in conducting this research?

If you were carrying out a similar project, how would you ensure that the children and young people were active participants?

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