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Key Considerations

Participatory Research Methods with Children

Participatory Research with Children

Children are often not taken seriously; a lot of people think that they aren’t capable of participating in research. In the article “Using Participatory Methods to Further the Democratic Goals of Children’s Organizations” by Roger Hart and Jasmine Rajbhandary, they discussed the clubs they had for children since 1990. They describe the participatory evaluations with the clubs supported by Save the Children Norway and Save the children USA. Mentioned in the article was that “ The goal for the research was to provide an account of the current membership patters, structures and functioning of the clubs and to critique these from the perspective of fulfilling children’s rights to participate.” (Hart and Rajbhandary, 2003)

There were many methods that are designed for people to look at their own communities, but no method to have the groups comment on how well they think they function as a participatory democratic organization. (Hart and Rajbhandary, 2003) They had to take into consideration the fact that many children in the clubs did not attend school and had no knowledge on how to read.

Even though the children have learned that they have an equal right to participate, during the participatory group methods the children still waiting for the leaders response before giving their own position. This is usually in every culture, that people often look at the most influential or respected group member for guidance. This is a great challenge for participatory methods with any culture or group. From this article we learned that we need to find ways for children to focus on each others words and actions, children learn from observing each other. If people used the methods discussed here, than maybe children would feel more comfortable to participate and be involved in decision-making.

Participant Observation with Minors

This is a study to help the researcher understand why and how children react to adults who are doing ethnographic research! The authors begin to explore the problems of the qualitative research with minors. They touch the topic on children thinking the way adults think, and they cannot hide their thoughts or feelings from adults. This research will show that age is a very important according to children’s response. The authors discuss problems and help by presenting strategies for conducting research with children of three different age groups, 4-6 year olds, 10-12 year olds ad 14-16 year olds.

There are two research goals; 1 is positive contact between the adult and the child and 2 is the adult has direct authority over the child. There are four participant observation roles: supervisor, leader, observer and friend. Building trust, making sure the individual is comfortable. Sharing values and behaviors, adopt many of the behaviors of the children they study. Rewards and gifts, may offer many services to children such as: food, monetary loans, praise, educational help, etc. Adult responsibility, researcher should make sure that the topic will not cause harm to the child. Informed consent, when not being in an authorized position, the researcher must provide an explanation of the research.

Overall understanding the world of childhood, it is known that children culture is similar to adult culture, or so we assume. Adults claim that children are still developing and often seem to be wrong in their conclusions. (Fine & Sandstrom, 1988).


Hart, R., & Rajbhandary, J. (n.d.). (2003) Using Participatory Methods to Further the Democratic Goals of Children’s Organizations. New Directions for Evaluation, 61-75.

Gary Alan Fine, & Kent L. Sandstrom (Eds.). (1988). Knowing Children. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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