Today I met with Barry Percy-Smith, the new Director of the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies here at Huddersfield, to introduce myself and get an overview of his areas of work.
Something we chatted about quite a bit was action inquiry as a research method – which Barry carries out a lot with groups of children and young people in specially designed workshops. This is not a method I have come across before, so I was interested to learn that it differs a lot from traditional focus groups/workshops in that it is focused on the participants and how they respond, not on gathering specific data which the researcher has pre-determined.
Although I need to look into it much more, I immediately thought this might be a method which could benefit my PhD research into social impact – after all, I want to focus on the participants experiences and understanding of impact, not give them a predetermined framework to try and fit their answers into.
This format also lends itself to using visual methods, which I am keen to look into more. As you might notice from previous posts, I love an excuse to get out the coloured pens and post it notes, and have been considering using a combination of different visual techniques as part of my data gathering stage. I’m currently thinking of using cognitive mapping, perhaps alongside a more narrative-led method such as a river or path with space for stages, actions and experiences.
Anyhow, these are all formative thoughts at the moment – it would be great to hear any opinions/experiences from people who have used action inquiry or visual methods – feel free to comment here or tweet me @megan_beech