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

3 Shier: A model for participation.

One researcher whom you may well meet as you do your Literature Review is Shier, well-known for his (2001) frame of reference for participation.

He drew this up to offer a means of ensuring an integrated approach to children and young people’s participation in research that affects their lives. From the lowest level – ‘children are listened to’ – to the highest – ‘children share power and responsibility for decision making’ – Shier frames questions for adults to consider when planning or evaluating projects with, about and by children and young people.

Read carefully Shier’s framework in the box below, then use the activity which follows to evaluate and reflect on what you have read.

Box 4

Level 1: children are listened to

Are you ready to listen to children?

Do you work in a way that enables you to listen to children?

Is it a policy requirement that children must be listened to?

Level 2: children are supported in expressing their views

Are you ready to support children expressing their views?

Do you have a range of ideas and activities to help children express their views?

Is it a policy requirement that children must be supported in expressing their views?

Level 3: children’s views are taken into account

Are you ready to take children’s views into account?

Does your decision-making process enable you to take children’s views into account?

Is it a policy requirement that children’s views must be given due weight in decision making?

Level 4: children are involved in decision-making processes

Are you ready to let children join in your decision-making processes?

Is there a procedure that enables children to join in your decision-making processes?

Is it a policy requirement that children must be involved in your decision-making processes?

Level 5: children share power and responsibility for decision making

Are you ready to share some of your adult power with children?

Is there a procedure that enables children and adults to share power and responsibility for decisions?

Is it a policy requirement that children and adults must share power and responsibility for decisions?

Activity 6

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.

How reliable do you think Shier’s framework is as a way of ensuring that children and young people will be able to engage fully with the research? Explain your thinking.

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What would you change, if anything?

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Discussion

One criticism of this framework is that it is presented as a linear process, when in reality things don’t quite work that way.

Another key criticism is that the questions are aimed at the adults, not the children or young people. Your work through this course so far will have shown you that this will not necessarily lead to a good quality research project.

Have a look at Hart’s earlier (1997) model, the Ladder of Participation [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Compare it with Shier’s framework.

Which do you prefer? Can you give two or three reasons for your preference?

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If these activities have sparked your interest particularly, try carrying out your own search by typing key words such as ‘participation’ and ‘children’ into your search engine.

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