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Past event

Digging into Data, Sharing Research Findings

shutterstock_251529133Online registration has now closed. If you want to attend this event, please email for details of how to register onsite.

The institutional structures that frame and support educational research and our understanding of children and childhood are changing. This includes emerging political narratives about what counts as useful research and knowledge, and their relation with policy and wider society. The aim of ‘Digging into Data, Sharing Research Findings’ is to consider the needs and interests of children and young people as participants in education research. This includes children and young people as research participants and stakeholders in utilizing research outputs.

09.30 Registration, tea/coffee

Symposium – Digging into Data: Theorizing children and childhood in education research methods
Discussant: Professor Leena Aanen – University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Professor Madeleine Leonard – Queen’s University, Belfast
The purpose of this presentation is to explore the everyday spatial practices of Catholic and Protestant teenagers living in residentially segregated communities in Belfast.  While these teenagers are considered the ‘post-conflict generation’, their micro-geographical spatial practices reveal deep seated divisions based on different ethno-national identities.  The discussion will illustrate the methodology and methodological challenges in achieving understanding of how young people develop subject mental maps of their own and other adjacent areas and use this knowledge to create peer-focused information networks of places of safety and risk.

Dr Debbie Watson – University of Bristol
In this session I will draw on two recent projects to consider arts based methods that are appropriate in ‘digging into the data’ with children and young people. Both are co-produced projects that have engaged participants in design, data making and analysis processes. Life Chances has engaged parents of children living in low income situations to re-envision the welfare system using fictional writing methods to produce a co-produced sociological novel. I will present these methods (fictional co-writing/ characterisation) and explore their application to research with children and young people. Whilst the second project, trove has involved children aged 5-15years in the co-design of a technological product for children in care and adopted children to narrate their life story through precious objects. I will explore the use of story and object attachments as ways of enabling data generation and analysis.

Dr Mhairi C Beaton – University of Aberdeen
Much has been written about learner identity within schools but fewer studies have explored children’s own perceptions of learner identity. The ethnographic project described in this paper explored the complexity of primary school pupils’ identities (Pollard, 1985). Underpinned by a symbolic interactionist view of identity (Mead, 1934; Blumer, 1969), data collection included observation, video recording of classroom interactions and semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis of these rich data explored the constitution, construction and function of the pupils’ learner identities.
The project highlighted an issue faced by many educational researchers. As many were once classroom teachers, they may unconsciously bring the assumptions of the classroom teacher to the research process; potentially making it challenging to hear the pupils. The interrelatedness of the various phases of the research and subsequent comparison of the different data, including an insider’s emic conceptual framework through the pupils’ use of ‘flip’ cameras, permitted the researcher in this project to hear the pupils’ authentic voices.
This permitted the demonstration how the pupils drew from hidden messages conveyed through the structure, culture and organisation of the school to construct their learner identities. Pupils claimed agency in whether they accepted or rejected these messages from their interactions with people and activities in the classroom. The messages identified by the pupils as being used to construct their identity were surprising to the researcher; perhaps in her role as a former classroom teacher.
The paper concludes with a discussion of resultant implications for those wishing to authentically enact student voice through consideration of the affordances and challenges of listening in a democratic society.

BLUMER, H., (1969). Symbolic interactionism; perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
MEAD, G.H., (1934). Mind, Self and Society from the standpoint of a social behaviourist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
POLLARD, A., (1985). The Social World of the Primary School. London: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

12.00 Convivium
12.30 Lunch
13.00 Sharing Research Findings
  Workshop 1 – Dr Debbie Watson
In this workshop I will offer participants a chance to try some of the methods used in the projects Life Chances and trove: storying through objects and character development for fictional writing using the Life Chances character cards. We will reflect on the ethical challenges involved in these methods and ways in which we need to work to keep children and young people emotionally safe and to understand issues relating to confidentiality and consent.
  Workshop 2 – Dr Katy Vigurs
Dr Katy Vigurs(University of Staffordshire) demonstrates how textual data can be transformed into graphic representations, thereby bringing greater emotional immediacy to research findings. Participants should bring an interview transcript or short research report to see how their data/findings could be interpreted visually.
15.00 Plenary
15.25 Completion of evaluation forms
15.30 Close of meeting


BERA offer a limited amount of bursaries for BERA Student Members only.

  • Bursaries are available for BERA Student Members to the value of £50 towards travel, and complimentary registration for the event.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 200 word statement on why you want to attend this event. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Once approved you will be sent details of how to register online. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA.