Small shoes, big steps! Empowering children as active researchers

Kellett, Mary (2010). Small shoes, big steps! Empowering children as active researchers. American Journal of Community Psychology, 46(1-2) pp. 195–203.



The concept of children as researchers has gained credence in response to changing perspectives on their status in society, recognition of their role as consumers and increased attention to children’s rights. While this has led to greater involvement of children as participant and co-researchers, research led by children - research they design, carry out and disseminate themselves with adult support rather than adult management – is still relatively rare. Children designing and leading their own research opens up new protagonist frontiers. Children are party to the subculture of childhood which gives them a unique ‘insider’ perspective critical to our understanding of their worlds. Child-to-child enquiry generates different data from adult-to-child enquiry because children observe with different eyes, ask different questions and communicate in fundamentally different ways. This paper explores some of the issues in empowering children as active researchers and draws on theory relating to participation, empowerment, voice and emancipation. Its primary focus is to celebrate and value children’s own research and includes the full text of an original research study by an eleven-year-old girl.

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