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

Session 2: What is research with children and young people?


So far in your learning you have considered why research with and by children and young people is important. You have considered the importance, and value, of involving them in research that concerns them, their lives and issues directly affecting them. In this Session you will be looking at what it means to carry out research with children and young people. You will reflect on your own interests in this type of research and consider some of the different ways to design child- and young person-focused research. You will be thinking of the challenges and opportunities that may arise when undertaking research with and by children and young people. What do you need to consider as you start to plan your research?

By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • identify, broadly speaking, a way to design a research project that is appropriate to the age-group with which you plan to work
  • describe some of the potential challenges you may face in your planned research
  • list 2 or 3 steps you could take to overcome any challenges.

Watch this short video which offers some key tips for anyone who may be planning research with children and young people. As you watch, make notes, and consider what you need to take into account. What should successful research involve?

Download this video clip.Video player: 1483626924_front_and_endboards.mp4
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If you're thinking of researching a topic affecting children and young people's lives, we recommend careful planning and involving them in the earliest stages possible. Even with the best intentions, adult perspectives are likely to be reflected in your results more than young people's.
When choosing the methods for your research, think carefully about what is appropriate for the age range. Using online surveys may be useful, but getting the right tone can be a challenge. Involving children and young people in the design process means the questions and methods are more likely to be meaningful for them.
It's also great to remember that young people are well able to carry out their own research when supported in the process. Successful research becomes a partnership between adults and children. And adults are frequently impressed by the creative input of young people.
The Our Voices website is designed not only for children and young people but also for adults such as teachers and health care professionals, as well as academic researchers and policy makers. The site shares tips, lots of how-to's of research, and success stories of inspiring and productive partnerships.


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Activity 1

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.

Here are some sentences that summarise the video you have just been watching, but they have been split up. Can you match the phrases so that they make complete sentences?

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. is a partnership between adults and children or young people.

  2. that are appropriate to the age-range.

  3. because their methods are more likely to be meaningful.

  4. carry out their own research.

  5. the children’s or young people’s perspective is reflected more than the adults’.

  • a.Involve the children and young people in the design

  • b.Take care that

  • c.Successful research

  • d.Select methods

  • e.Let the children and young people

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = c
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = e
  • 5 = b

Later in this Session, you will learn of some of the benefits children and young people can gain from projects they have undertaken themselves, and what research means to them personally. But, as you saw in the video, careful planning is essential, so first you will be considering what you need to do in order to get the most out of your project. You may be presented with particular challenges and opportunities, and you may need to develop specific skills.

In Session 1 you learned of the right for children and young people’s voices to be heard. Their opinions, and what they have to say, need to be understood. Therefore, they need to be listened to. This may sound simple, but in the next section you will be investigating how to listen effectively, so that voices are fully heard.


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