15 SES 02, Ethic and Partnership
Paper/Pecha Kucha Session
This paper presents findings from a Danish research project aiming to work in partnership with children. More concretely, this paper examines the question: how to have a research partnership with 13/14-year-old’s and consider children’s voices.
This question is examined by analyzing the research process and identifying supportive elements that have the potential to build partnerships where students become co-researchers.
Researching young people’s educational experiences has been of interest to many researchers working in educational research. Guidance on how to ethically conduct educational research is typically offered through the research community and while there are differences between countries and how those guidelines are enacted they tend to follow similar principles. In this paper, I am presenting findings from a research project (Beyond technology) that is still in process (year 2 out of a 3-year study) that was employing predominantly videography as a method of data collection.
The purpose and objectives of the project are twofold. First, to identify the practices, and appropriateness of use when primary school students bring their own devices (BYOD) to school. This includes any kind of smart technology (phones, tablets), but also cameras, digital watches and any applications that such devices may be connecting to access information or collect data. Second, it is of interest to identify how school-owned technology is used to connect with student-owned devices, including if they are used to collect information from students. These research interests imply that it is imperative to involve young people since the topics that are being explored are about their lives with technology.
The theoretical framework that underpins partnerships of trust is based on Kantian philosophy, that posits that children are free rational beings who deserve the same respect as adults. Since research involving children is potentially intrusive and revealing, extra measures need to be taken that protect the dignity of children in the same way adults would need to be protected. However, while children have moral status as persons and rights for protection as human beings, they cannot always be treated like adults and this creates a special status that requires balancing equal and unequal treatment (Brennen & Nogle 1997). Further, in this project we are also guided by the UNICEF initiative on ethical research involving children (ERIC), an international charter to guide research involving young people (Graham, Powell, Taylor, Anderson & Fitzgerald, 2013). It considers the following key aspects: a) Ethics in research involving children is everyone's responsibility; b) Respecting the dignity of children is core to ethical research; c) Children involved in research are entitled to justice; d) Ethical research benefits children; e) Children should never be harmed by their participation in research; f) Research must always obtain children's informed and ongoing consent; and that g) Ethical research requires ongoing reflection.
Since data collection in this project involves videography, it is particularly important to address the intrusiveness of this tool with children and jointly negotiate risks and benefits of taking part in a research process under such conditions.
Ethnographic data has been collected with and from students, including through video-recorded classroom observations, formal and informal interviews, meetings with the children and their parents. Data collection involved also video recorded stories the children produced, and the collection of the children’s learning products in an effort to reflect on the complexity of people and things, and embodied practices (Heath & Hindmarsh 2002).
The following observations were made: Asking for consent was an ongoing process; children and their parents were informed about the research, associated risks and rights during meetings and in writing, and asking for consent was renewed the following year so young people could also reflect on their experiences in this project in order to give ’informed consent’. Children helped to examine the project’s research questions to identify what issues they would find worthwhile investigating. Children were invited to jointly analyze data and present findings from the project to other researchers. While the project is still continuing, a preliminary result is that a research partnership that is giving students a voice needs to make space for different points of views, since children’s opinions on things that concern their lives are not universal but are the viewpoints of individuals (Thomson, 2008). The intention and objective of including students’ voices, is about moving towards working with them so that the outcomes benefit their lives, and/or educational experiences (Noyes, 2005). With this in mind, it is important not to ignore the imbalances that exist between researchers and young people, simply due to the fact that researchers in schools are adults who are operating as adults with power in defined institutional settings. This project has received funding from Nordplus Junior.
Brennan, S., & Noggle, R. (1997). The moral status of children: Children's rights, parents' rights, and family justice. Social Theory and Practice, 23(1), 1-26. Graham, A., Powell, M., Taylor, N., Anderson, D., & Fitzgerald, R. (2013). Ethical research involving children. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. Heath, C., & Hindmarsh, J. (2002). Analysing interaction. Analysing Interaction: Video, ethnography and situated conduct. In May, T. (Ed). Qualitative Research in Practice, London: Sage. pp. 99-121 Noyes, A. (2005). Pupil voice: purpose, power and the possibilities for democratic schooling. British Educational Research Journal, 31 (4): 532–540. Thomson, P. (2009). Doing visual research with children and young people. London: Routledge.
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