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Children as Researchers


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Leiden Science Communication Seminar by Nina von der Assen (Utopa Foundation) …

Leiden Science Communication Seminar by Nina von der Assen (Utopa Foundation)
July 2012

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  • 1. UTOPA - ACADEMIEChildren as researchers Wednesday 25th of July 2012 16:30 – 16:50 Nina von der Assen Utopa Foundation
  • 2. Child Rights
  • 3. Introduction• Children as objects - research ‘about’ children• Children as subjects - Research ‘among’ children - Research ‘with’ children• Children as participants - Research ‘by’ children (children as active collaborators in the research process)
  • 4. Children as participantsWhy is research by children important?Rights of the Child• protection• provision• participation (children as subjects of research)
  • 5. Convention on the Rights of the Child• CRC Article 12 …to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.• CRC Article 13 The child shall have the right to freedom of expression [including] freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds….. through any other media of the childs choice.
  • 6. How to develop children as researchers?Child Research Centre @ Open University
  • 7. Examples of original research• 2005: ‘Hey, I’m nine not six!’ A small-scale investigation of looking younger than your age at school. By Anna Carlini and Emma Barry (aged 10)• 2007: Do children eat a balanced diet? By Rhiannon Oldershaw (aged 10)• 2008: Are girls and boys treated differently in school? By Helen Dandridge (aged 10)
  • 8. Benefits of research by children• Research process -> advanced learning tool and whetstone for critical thinking.• Sharpens their writing, communication and organizational skills• advanced learning through motivation and ownership• create knowledge• peer research encourages closer intimacy and fuller discussion
  • 9. Barriers to research by children:• age/ competence• knowledge• skills
  • 10. Children’s Research Group
  • 11. Children’s Research Group- Developed bij International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) and Stichting Alexander- Funded by Utopa Foundation- 3 years: 2010, 2011, 2012- Age: 11-12 years (last year Primary School)- 10 Wednesday afternoons- Children from various schools/ backgrounds
  • 12. Goals of the project• Create new knowledge from a children’s perspective• Contribute to cognitive, social and communication skills• Contribute to knowledge about children’s rights
  • 13. Research ladder 9. Presenting 8. Answer research question 7. Analyse data 6. Gather data 5. Develop research method 4. Choose research method 3. Research question 2. Gather information 1. Choose theme
  • 14. Presentation
  • 15. Topics….• Bullying in school• Right to play• Right to be heard• Freedom of religion• etc
  • 16. Idea box
  • 17. Comments….• It’s a lot of fun! I always look forward to it!• I like it better here than at home• There should also be normal coke, because diet coke contains artifical sweeteners and these are not good for the brain…..
  • 18. Inspiration roll
  • 19. Important lessons• Link with (civil) society• Adequate supervision needed• Children from disadvantages backgrounds• Dissemination of results
  • 20. Ethical considerations“Ethics relates to the application of a system ofmoral principles to prevent harming orwronging others, to promote the good, to berespectful and to be fair.”(Sieber in Morrow & Richards, 1996)
  • 21. Ethics• cost- benefits ratio (costs can be emotional, financial, physical)• respect and justice• rights• best outcomes• Macro level: ethics committee• Micro level: researchers make individual, fine judgements
  • 22. Ethical issues• informed consent• protection from abuse• Confidentiality and anonymityNo researcher/ research body can anticipate all ethical problems that may be encountered!
  • 23. Some ethical and scientific questions (Alderson, 2001):• Can professional researchers and child co-researchers work together on reasonable equal, informed and unpressured terms?• How much should professional researchers intervene to support children or to control the research?• How can adults avoid exploiting or manipulating children?• How much must or should their gate keepers (parents, teachers) be involved?• Who should have final control over the data and reports?
  • 24. Adults vs. children(Morrow & Richards, 1996)Ethical considerations apply to adult research subjects can and must apply to children too.In addition:• children’s competencies are different• children are potentially vulnerable• adults have the power to interpret data in any way that they please
  • 25. • Who is ‘right’?• Who has ‘status’?
  • 26. Questions?
  • 27. ReferencesAlderson, P. (2001). ‘Research by children’. Int. J. Social Research Methodology. Vol. 4 (2) 139-153.Boyden, J. & Ennew, J. (1997). Children in Focus- a Manual for Participatory Research with Children. Rädda Barnen.Christensen. P. & James, A. (Eds) (2008). Research with children. Perspectives and Practices. Routledge, Oxon.Clark, A. and Moss, P. (2001) Listening to young children: the Mosaic approach, London: National Childrens BureauJones, A. (2004). ‘Involving children and Young people as researchers’. In Fraser, et al (Eds) Doing research with young people. Sage publications, London.Kellet, M. (2005). How to develop children as researchers. Sage publications, London.Kellet, M., Forrest, R. (aged 10), Dent, N. (aged 10) & Ward. S. (aged 10) (2004). ‘Just teach us the skills please, we’ll do the rest’: Empowering Ten-Year-Olds as Active Researchers’. Children and Society, Vol 18, 329-343.Kidd, S.A. & Kral, M.J. (2005). ‘Practicing Participatory Action Research.’ Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 52 (2) 187-195.
  • 28. ReferencesKirby P. (2004) ‘A Guide to Actively Involving Young People in Research: For researchers, research commissioners, and managers’. INVOLVE. Online:, V. & Richards, M. (1996). ‘The ethics of social research with children: an overview.’ Children & Society, 10 (2) 90- 105.Punch, S. (2002) ‘Research with Children: The Same or Different from Research with Adults?’ Childhood, 9 (3): 321-341.Save the children (2000). Young people as researchers. A learning resource pack. Save the children, London.Save the children (2004). So you want to involve children in research? A toolkit supporting children’s meaningful and ethical participation in research relating to violence against children. Save the children Sweden.Thomas, N. & O’Kane, C. (1998). ‘The ethics of participatory research with children.’ Children and Society, Vol 12, 336-348.Uprichard, E. (2010). ‘Questioning Research with Children: Discrepancy between Theory and Practice?’ Children and Society, Vol 24 (1) 3-13.