Students as co-researchers: Exploring their peers' social worlds

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Description of Activity

This paper presents the methodology for an ethnographic study that explored the social worlds of 300 students attending a youth centre based on a school site. The study responded to issues encountered when 14 students attempted a GCSE teamwork assessment in an alternative curriculum programme. Teamwork, understood within school curricula as a process of sequentially related tasks consisting of individual roles, was rather conceptualised as managing relationships in order to complete a task together. The study explored how the students conceptualised language and signified behaviours in their wider social relationships. Findings enabled me to help students translate the language they used to signify activities corresponding with the curricula concept of teamwork into the assessment language. Specifically I discuss the appointment and ethical considerations related to the co-opting of ten junior youth leaders as co-researchers who helped me carry out observations of their peers’ social practices across a range of youth centre sessions. My rationale draws on Freire (2004) and his epistemological position that claims humans are relational beings and that knowledge is co-constructed within a relational contexts. I argue the student co-researchers’ involvement was essential in both the planning and carrying out of the research because they were not only embedded in their own culture and social practices but had also built good working relationships with me within the research site – the youth centre. This implied a mutual understanding of our conceptual language enabling us to co-construct an interpretative framework for their peers’ social practices and language codes.
Period10 Apr 201812 Apr 2018
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Identity, Community and Social Solidarity
Event typeConference
LocationNewcastleShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Participant
  • Action
  • Research
  • Young people