‘I DID IT MOSTLY BY MYSELF’: MYSHOUT! AND HOW IT WAS USED BY A 12-YEAR-OLD YOUNG RESEARCHER TO SUPPORT HIS OWN SOCIAL RESEARCH PROJECT
Open University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper offers a first-hand perspective on the utility of MyShout! – a password protected web-based resource designed to support young researchers throughout the process of learning how to conduct their own out-of-school social research projects. To date, it appears that most resources to support young researchers have been designed for the adults who work with them (e.g. the teachers who run after-school clubs). Consequently, young researchers are reliant upon the availability of their adult mentors in order to be able to undertake their work and, when adult time is limited, young people may lose interest or drop out. MyShout! differs from previous resources as it was designed with young researchers, for young researchers. It teaches them how to do social research so they can make informed choices and exercise high levels of responsibility for, and agency over, their own research projects. Adults, therefore, are able to adopt a more facilitatory role e.g. by supporting access to research participants.
The structure of MyShout! is informed by previous work and consists of nine iterative and interconnected research phases:
- My Topic,
- My Question,
- My Research,
- My Method,
- My Data,
- My Analysis,
- My Response,
- My Shout and
- My Diary.
Clicking on each phase reveals a range of relevant activities such as quizzes, interactive diagrams, podcasts made by young people and decision points. The research question addressed in this paper is: ‘can young researchers exercise agency over, and take responsibility for, their own social research projects by working their way through the activities in MyShout! in their own time with minimal adult facilitation?’
We adopt a self-report case study approach where the second author reports on his experience of using MyShout! to help him to exercise personal responsibility for the conduct of an ethical research project into the use of violent video games amongst his peers. Richard was one of ten 12-year old young researchers who attended an after-school ‘social researchers club’ supported by two members of school staff. He describes how he used MyShout! and this is accompanied by representative screenshots of his work on the website. He reflects on the facilitatory role of the teachers at school and his parents at home. He states that it was difficult, on occasions, to find time to complete MyShout! activities due to other out-of-school commitments but that he felt deeply committed and driven to succeed because it was his own work and of great interest to him. Richard concludes that he is proud of the fact that he completed his research project and that he was able to present his work at two events, one of which was attended by two senior representatives from the UK Government who are dedicted to representing and listening to young people.
We conclude that MyShout! can be used effectively by young researchers to support their learning about how to conduct their own research.The degree of choice given over the research topic and research question ensures that the young researchers remain engaged and committed to taking responsibility for learning how to complete an investigation into an area that they feel passionate about. We suggest that future work might involve an exploration into how the voices of young researchers can be made more visible in MyShout! by the inclusion of short videos that offer accounts of their experiences that can offer support to young researchers in the future.