Thursday, 3 July 2014

My thoughts on 'Students as Researchers: Making a Difference' Chapter 1

Here's the next book I'm on to, as mentioned in my previous post. Clearly it's been well read, judging by the cover!

To start, I am going to use this blog as a form of note taking. I am going to jot down any interesting points here, and will elaborate on them later, when I have more time.

First of all, I often wonder if what I am proposing to do is something many advocates of Students as Researchers (SAR) would approve of. A lot of the literature that I've read so far, and this book specifically, suggest that we shouldn't 'use' the students for our own means, as 'data sources'. I don't think that I'm trying to 'use' my students by any means; I do hope that I can form a partnership with them, or involve them as Fielding and Bragg (2003) state. However, to fully involve them I really do need to make sure that the questions that we use in the interviews are not totally developed by myself. This isn't something I had previously considered. I suppose that I will create my own questions (the ones I've used for this pilot-before-the-pilot), share them with my student researchers and see if they have any suggestions on how we should re-phrase them. It would probably make the questions much more 'student friendly', so I can see the benefits of that. They might even have some really good ideas for how to elicit some interesting responses. Hmmm... 

Ultimately, I do want to share control of my research project, but at the end of the day it is going to be me who types the report, not them. This suggests that in the end, I am using them... which is disheartening. I plan to have the students help me validate my transcription and codes, which implies that they'll be helping me to draw conclusions along the way. I suppose, in this way, they are sharing the research with me, although I am going to naturally take on a 'lead researcher' role. I hope that if I work in this way, write the report, share it with them, and then make modifications based on their suggestions that it will remain sufficiently 'our' paper, and not just mine.

I also feel that I'm exerting too much control in focusing on feedback. Fielding and Bragg (2003) suggest that the best SAR projects are one where the students choose the focus, not the teacher. That being said, since this is for my thesis it seems logical that the topic be driven by my interests. Perhaps if I go on to do my PhD I could extend the project to one that the students choose the topic for, or perhaps study how they are able to work as researchers on multiple projects. Who knows... I'm just musing on things now!

Perhaps I could initial a separate SAR project, one not linked to my Masters, where students look into what makes a good lesson. I think that would be an interesting project to undertake, for the entire school. It links back to something I mentioned in an earlier post, about the possibility of students observing lessons and providing feedback to teachers on what works and what doesn't (in their opinion, not ours).

Anyways, those are my thoughts on the first chapter. More to come later.



Fielding, M & Bragg, S. (2003). Students as Researchers: Making a Difference. Pearson Publishing.