Doing Participatory Research Within Diverse Locations: Conducting Collaborative Enquiry Into Complex Environments Using Digital Technology

Abstract

This case study discusses how participatory research methods can be used to develop understanding of learning environments in higher education contexts. It focuses on how participatory methods can be enhanced by digital technology which can inform us about the relationships between learning and the higher education environment. Based on a research project in a UK university, the project investigated the learning experiences of trainee teachers and followed three stages. In the first stage, geolocation digital technology was used to guide trainee teachers to locations where they addressed site-specific activities that considered how environments outside the classroom make effectively contribute to learning. In the second stage, the trainees developed teaching resources based on this experience. In the third and final stages, trainees reflected on the whole process and how it might facilitate pupils’ learning in the future. Digital data from each stage were collated online and used by the researchers to stimulate reflection about longer term professional development in these settings. This case study provides an overview of the project and discusses the design of the research, considering how digital technology can be effectively used within the context of a participatory research study. It highlights the benefits and limitations of such a methodology and describes the lessons which be learned for future projects.

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