Scaling-up participatory research with children: investigating the influence on co-researchers’ critical consciousness and their agency in the research process
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-05-03.
© 2020 Katitza Andrea Marinkovic Chavez
Participatory research with children aims to actively collaborate with child co-researchers to co-construct knowledge and social action about their worlds. Recently, a growing number of studies have increased the size and scope of participatory research with children. However, there is scarce evidence on how collaborating across study sites and engaging with data that reflects the lives of children from different backgrounds and contexts influences child co-researchers’ views about themselves, their communities, and the world, as well as their experiences during the research process. Additionally, although scaled-up participatory studies tend to show overall high levels of child agency, little is known about the process of increasing child co-researchers’ agency within and beyond the research setting. My PhD research focused on answering the question of how does scaling-up participatory research with children influence child co-researchers’ critical consciousness and their agency in the research? To answer this question, I carried out a scoping review of the literature and two qualitative participatory studies. The Children’s Araucaria study focused on exploring children’s experiences in two disaster risk reduction programs, one in Chile, the other one in Australia. My second study, Kids Contribute, was part of a larger initiative led by the Child and Community Wellbeing Unit at the University of Melbourne and carried out in collaboration with a children’s television news program. Child co-researchers from different backgrounds and places in Australia helped create questions and interpret results for a poll about how children contribute at home, school and elsewhere in the community. Then, a group of child co-researchers presented their findings and recommendations at a national forum, organized with the Australian Human Rights Commission. My work in this project focused on examining the qualitative and participatory component of the research. My findings showed that scaling-up participatory research with children can help promote child co-researchers’ critical consciousness at the individual, social and global levels of awareness. As the research process increased their exposure to other children’s perspectives, child co-researchers began to explore the connections between their personal experiences and those of other children in their communities and across Australia. Child co-researchers were also motivated to learn about the realities of children in different parts of the world and to collaborate across geographic frontiers to address global issues like climate change and racism. My research also found that, if the goal is to scale-up participatory research with children, child co-researchers should have opportunities to engage in research activities beyond their local community across the different stages of the research process. This task can be complex, since the context of each study location can facilitate or constrain child agency in different ways. Through their dialogue with child co-researchers, adult researchers can promote critical consciousness at different levels of awareness by using research activities as prompts and integrating discussions about the different geographic and ecological levels involved in the study. Child co-researchers can also benefit from collaborating with each other across study sites. Finally, to increase the impact of the research and child co-researchers’ empowerment in their relationship with adults, researchers can help build increasingly wider audiences that are willing to listen and act upon children’s ideas.
KeywordsParticipatory research; Children; Adolescents; Critical reflection; Praxis; Child rights; Empowerment; Scaling-up; Qualitative research; Child wellbeing; Child mental health
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