Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The journey of researching on to researching with : theoretical and methodological challenges within educational research
Authors: Clark, Jill Lindy Leigh
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the relationship between participatory research and visual methods. Firstly, I explore how methodology can be participative, investigating the conceptual base, the possibilities, significance and usefulness. Secondly, I explore whether using visual research methods can contribute to participatory research and how we can do this better as researchers. As I gained more confidence as a researcher, I started to carve out such space within projects to design and use more creative, innovative and visual research tools as a way of engaging with the participants in my research. The thesis elaborates on three main themes: 1. Ideals vs Practice of participatory research: How I have come to understand the difference between the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of participatory research within the everyday reality (and the affordances and constraints) of educational research when trying to do it well. My early discussion relates to the methodological, practical and ethical challenges faced when, as a researcher, I was keen to be evaluatively formative, inclusive and collaborative (Publications 1, 2, 3). I also relate this to the range of knowledge this can produce. In this theme I explore the underlying principles of participatory research – and how these fit well with my own values as a researcher - and the notion of participation, consider linear modelling and question the concept of voice. I explore the mismatch between what I intended (the ideal) and what happened in reality (practice). I consider whether and how participation can be conceptualised in the less-than-ideal situations of real world research. 2. Quality in practice using visual methods: How visual methods can help individuals think differently. With reference to the development of particular visual research tools, I explore what visual methods can add to the quality of participatory research particularly in terms of ethics, inclusivity and appropriateness (Publications 4 and 5). I argue that visual methods enable me to reject a deterministic framework for exploring human behaviour and experiences, but instead position visual methods as facilitative with the aim of creating ‘space’ – ‘visually-mediated encounters’ - for meaningful dialogue between the researcher and participant. I critically explore the affordances of using visual methods and the different pieces of knowledge that visual methods can facilitate. I argue that the use of visual methods in a participatory setting can evoke a variety of viewpoints, from a range of participants, leading to a more complete and better research process. 3. Making connections: Implications for policy and practice: Revisiting the early concepts in my work, Publication 6 develops my earlier ideas further and proposes a model for effective participatory research. Publication 6 is a result of this journey to date, - as I reflect, refine and further develop tools to improve the research process and the experiences of people within it. During this journey so far I have moved from the structural issues of conducting participatory research (section 3), through to 7 managing the research encounter (section 4) and bringing all that I have learnt through to a policy and practice context (section 5). This thesis draws upon twenty three years as a researcher at Newcastle University, and my experiences of conducting over 60 research projects in many diverse educational settings. These different environments include community-based settings, prisons, and primary and secondary schools. However, it is not the particular settings in which this research takes place that is important in this thesis. It is to some extent about the participants within the thesis, and these include young offenders in the community, prisoners and children and young people. These participants could be described as unheard, or the have nots in the research process (e.g. Munro et al., 2005; Liamputtong, 2007; Arnstein, 1969) and so this thesis will discuss the particular considerations and sensitivities of being a researcher faced with subject groups who are sometimes placed at the margins of society. It explores the ethical, practical and methodological implications of researching with such groups (or for) rather than as objects of research (see Griffiths, 1998). My research experiences and reflections are placed in the wider context of other researchers in the area who advocate an inclusive, and collaborative methodology alongside ‘user involvement’ and ‘participation’ (e.g. Cook, 2003; Crozier and Reay, 2004; Nind, 2014). However, such concepts are contested, often overlapping, used interchangeably and are therefore not unproblematic, as will become evident. Rather than have a single study focus, the thesis charts my journey as an academic across both a series of projects and a timeframe and focuses on the reflection, learning and the thinking which took place within this work over time. This thesis is based on 6 pieces of work published between 2006 and 2012 – five are published in independent, peer-reviewed journals - and the majority of these publications are joint-authored. This reflects the collaborative nature of my work – I have never worked as a lone researcher (nor have I had the desire to) and I have always enjoyed being part of larger research and writing teams. This thesis reflects my own perspectives and therefore my own contribution to this work. Moreover, the publications are not all academic journal articles, one is a report (Publication 6), which is soundly based on academic evidence and robust research (funded through the joint Research Councils UK Connected Communities programme), and has been written specifically for a wider audience. This report is primarily aimed at practitioners and policy-makers and reflects my gradual realisation that by broadening the dissemination from academic journals, such publications can be accessed and utilised by different audiences, academics and non-academics, and perhaps have different kinds of impact. For a full list of the submitted publications for this thesis, please see Table 1. Contextual publications (related to my thesis, but not submitted as part of my thesis) which help to provide the context for my work are referred to in the thesis as [a], [b] etc., and a full reference list is included in Appendix 1.
Description: PhD Thesis (Published Articles have been removed due to copyright issues. The thesis can be viewed in full, on request via the print copy at the University Library)
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Clark, J. 2015.pdfThesis3 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
dspacelicence.pdfLicence43.82 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.