Children as researchers in English primary schools: developing a model for good practice.
In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 1-4 Sep 2010, University of Warwick, UK.
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Since the establishment of the Children's Research Centre at The Open University (CRC) in 2004, children from the age of nine have been shown to be able to engage meaningfully with research process when given appropriate training. This paper reports on the findings of a four-year doctoral study (Bucknall, 2009) which identifies and explores the issues and barriers that influence experiences of children's engagement in self-directed empirical research in these settings. Multiple-case study was adopted as the research strategy for this study. A flexible, multi-method research design was applied. Predominantly qualitative data were generated with adult and child participants in five schools associated with the CRC and data analysis was informed by grounded theory. The central categories which emerged from the data and, in particular, the identification of important issues by the children, have together informed the staged construction of a model for CaR initiatives in English primary schools. This illustrates the factors and processes that had an impact on both the children's experiences of research training and the research process and outcomes and demonstrates that these are inextricably interrelated. This study addresses a gap in our knowledge and understanding of children as researchers and consideration of the issues and barriers identified will provide a basis for good practice during the further implementation and evaluation of young researcher initiatives in schools (author abstract)
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