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Exploring the ethical issues related to visual methodology when including young children’s voice in wider research samples

Wall, Kate (2017) Exploring the ethical issues related to visual methodology when including young children’s voice in wider research samples. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21 (3). pp. 316-331. ISSN 1360-3116

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Understanding and working with ethical issues when including young children in educational research is critical to ensuring their involvement is meaningful. Increasingly, different methodological approaches have been used to address some of these issues, and the use of visual methods is showing particular potential for its age appropriateness. This paper will specifically focus on three examples of drawing based visual method used with samples of children across compulsory school age from the Learning to Learn in Schools project: Pupil View Templates (n=263, age range 4–12 years), cartoon storyboards (n=210, age range 4-16 years) and fortune lines (n= 69, 4–14 years). The discussion of each method will be framed from a pragmatic perspective and will particularly focus on the ethics of process and output, how the method was used and the data that were analysed. Questions will be asked about the considerations that need to be made when including young children in data sets with other older school-aged children and dilemmas identified: the affordances and constraints of visual approaches for all participants, the role of the visual as mediator, the role and positioning of the adult support and the impact this has on the nature of the data elicited.