Embedding Young Children’s Participation Rights into Research: How the Interactive Narrative Approach Enhances Meaningful Participation

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Abstract

This research explored how young children’s research participation can be enhanced when an interactive narrative approach is embedded within research to enhance children’s consent to participation and their understanding of the research process. The context for this research was a 1-h, science outreach programme delivered into Australian playgroups. An interactive digital story was devised to inform nine children (aged 3–4 years) about the purposes of the research. Across a period of 11–16 weeks and across three occasions, an informing story about the research was used with the children to elicit their descriptions and explanations about their research role. Data gathered from semi-structured interviews with parents and audio- and video-recorded conversations with children also aided in the analyses to understand how children perceived their role as a research participant. Through cross-case analysis, six aspects of meaningful research participation were identified from children’s and parents’ responses: engagement, journeying, authenticity, consequence, ownership, and identity. The research extends current knowledge about young children’s rights to understand their participatory role in research and about the considerations that can be put in place to ensure participation is personally meaningful to children.

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