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Pushing the Boundaries: Theory and Practice of Using Visual Methods to Aid Children’s Participation in Educational Research

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jill ClarkORCiD, Karen Laing, Lucy Tiplady, Dr Pamela Woolner


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Seeking the views and perspectives of children and young people (CYP) in research about educational experiences is crucial if we are to improve practice and change lives. Researchers and practitioners often cite the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) - and it is Article 12, in particular which states that CYP are entitled to have their voice heard regarding situations and contexts that affect them - as a starting point for justifying the involvement of children. However, there is less evidence of reflection on their own rationale and commitment to participatory approaches and even less so on the practicalities of just how we can do this well. This research methodology workshop will focus on firstly the context of participatory research with CYP and will cover the development of participatory research and associated policies over the decades. Secondly, the workshop will consider the context of visual methods and tools and how these can be used in an innovative and creative way to conduct research with CYP. Participants will have the opportunity to circulate amongst a ‘carousel’ of four different activities which will provide examples of visual methods: 1. Diamond ranking has been used in classrooms to explore and clarify the feelings and thoughts on a topic and is usually carried out with pre-written statements. At the workshop, however, participants will have the opportunity to learn about and try using this activity with visual images instead (Clark, 2011). 2. Photo-elicitation and beyond: talking about, choosing and ranking pictures. Methods will be demonstrated of using the immediacy of photographs which are alternative or complementary to the semi-structured qualitative interview through photo-elicitation. 3. Pupil Views Templates (PVTs): we will look at a range of methods that originate from PVTs (Wall and Higgins, 2006), having the explicit intention of prompting metacognitive responses from pupils. Some of the templates that will be presented here have more recently been adapted using photograph imagery for use in a range of research contexts. 4. We will facilitate discussion and practical experimentation with different visual techniques to engage children and young people in research, such as: fortune lines; spider diagrams; PMIs, and drawings. These methods can be used flexibly in different contexts and provide a toolbox of ideas that researchers can draw on when conducting research in an inclusive way. Participants will learn about the theoretical underpinnings of the methods and then experience the practicalities of completing and designing these methods themselves. The final section of the workshop will explore the analysis of data produced through these methods, considering the quantitative as well as the qualitative possibilities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark J, Laing K, Tiplady L, Woolner P

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unpublished

Conference Name: The European Conference on Educational Research

Year of Conference: 2012