Forget dusty tomes, go video
Need a refresher, or indeed an introduction, into how to research children? The MRS has a video alternative to printed guidelines, says Judy Bartkowiak.
Top marks go to the MRS for producing an engaging set of short videos to share best practice in childrens and young peoples research. Engaging because Barbie Clarke, Sarah Gale, Damien Flannagan and Richard Ellwood are all highly experienced childrens researchers yet they talked through some of the potential pitfalls and reminded us of the MRS guidelines in such a way that had I been a young researcher I would not have felt patronised.
Even as an old hand I was reminded of the importance of setting pre-tasks which are quick, easy and fun to warm children up ready for the group experience and to remember to check collages for anonymity before sharing them with clients. It was clear that making the research experience safe and enjoyable for the children was paramount.
The collection opened with an introductory video and then the six videos following covered different aspects of the research process: Consent and Permission, Qualitative, Quantitative, Analysis and Reporting, Safeguarding, Screeners/Pre-tasks and Incentives. There was an excellent well-presented fact sheet for each one, which was easy to read with bullet points and key words in bold.
There were some points made in the fact sheet that I would perhaps have mentioned in the video such as avoiding giving sugar-rich party type food such as sweets and biscuits. I would also have mentioned having another researcher available in the event of having to take a child to the loo or occupy a disruptive child with a task.
Not mentioned in either was the optimum age spread of children. I find clients can be naïve and overly ambitious about how wide an age spread to have in each group, forgetting perhaps how intimidating it can be for a child in Year 4 to be sitting next to a child in Year 7 who is at Secondary school. I would have been interested to hear this discussed.
This medium is a completely different way to share the guidelines for how to conduct research with children and young people! Instead of the hefty tome that you can download from the MRS website, we can watch a series of videos with straplines giving the key point and click for the fact sheet. For those of us, like me, who prefer to learn through auditory and kinaesthetic senses this is ideal. Those with a preference for visual have the fact sheets so its a WIN WIN whatever way you like to process your information.
These videos demonstrate a modern, approachable side to the MRS and I for one, having watched them would have no hesitation in calling Richard or using the Forum. I think I would also share them with clients new to researching children or young people and young researchers who have had little contact with children.
Owner, Kids Research
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, April 2015
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015