SPARC 2012

Abstract for Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference (SPARC 2012)

Creative methods for data generation: Learning walks (Dimitrina Kaneva, The University of Manchester)

This paper explores the use of creative methods in qualitative research and specifically in the work with children struggling with English. Giving voice to students and enabling them to be actively engaged in articulating their views about schools is a significant issue in education (Ainscow et al. 2012). However, the majority of existing research has adopted more orthodox methods for generating data such as interviews or observations. Focusing on innovative ways of collecting the views of children by enabling them to reflect on their experiences through visual cues from the surroundings, this paper proposes a different take on researching children. It argues that learning walks are a way of collecting views by interacting with children on the move within their schools. I will present my methodological design and discuss the use of learning walks as a creative and exciting way to elicit the views of children who speak English as an additional language. I will outline the planning and use of learning walks, the advantages and disadvantages of this method and some ideas of how data could be triangulated and analysed. I will provide reflections on my methodology and important lessons I have learned by using learning walks as part of my research.  I will conclude by suggesting that even though I have used learning walks as part of an educational study, as a flexible research method, learning walks or walking interviews could be applicable and potentially powerful in a range of disciplines and research situations.

Key words: learning walks, creative data generation, qualitative research, researching children


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