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Knock knock! Who’s there? Gaining access to children as researchers

By Jane Murray


When researching with children, challenges of gaining ethically appropriate access to data to support their worlds are well documented (Hood et al., 1996; Lewis and Porter, 2005). Within an educational research context, studies locating children aged eight and under as researchers in their own lives are less well documented (Clark and Moss, 2001), despite evidence suggesting the feasibility of this (Gelman and Wellman, 1991; Gopnik and Meltzoff, 1996). This paper reports and reflects on a range of access issues experienced during an ethnographic case study located within constructivist grounded theory (Siraj-Blatchford, and Siraj-Blatchford, 2001; Charmaz, 2006), conducted in England in three early childhood education and care settings inhabited by children (n=150) aged 4-8 years and five of the children’s own homes). The enquiry also engaged sixteen experienced researchers from two university education departments. Conducted within the British Educational Research Association’s ethical parameters (2004), this enquiry was concerned with ascertaining young children’s potential as researchers in their own lives. For the purposes of the study, a defining rubric of researcher behaviours was empirically established and applied to the identification of research activity undertaken by young children in their everyday contexts. The children had undertaken no formal research methods training. Nested within a dual context of educational mangerialism and heightened media and government policy focus on safeguarding, the enquiry presented a number of challenges in terms of accessing data. These included negotiating gatekeepers, securing consent over assent and gathering material for analysis. This paper reports on the ways that these were addressed, and how the study developed as a resul

Topics: LB1139, LB1028
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Provided by: NECTAR

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