Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Student as co-inquirers: The challenges and benefits of inclusive research

Review by: Yasmin Dean, Associate Professor, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada

This resource provides the reader with an opportunity to consider the ways that research can be conducted “with” rather than “for” or “on” students. It also shares the challenges inherent with ‘co-participation’ and the complexity involved when working across geopolitical contexts navigating different cultural contexts and also when using mediums such as skype to conduct interviews.

Content is well organized and takes the reader through the literature review related to how students experience research through to a discussion related to liminal spaces of knowing. The challenge of how to involve students as co-researchers was particularly well explained.

Researchers and educators interested in student research, service learning and international education projects wanting to better understand the student experience will find this article to be particularly useful. The article helped me consider 1) how to engage students as co-researchers,  2) what it really means to bring student “voice” into research and 3) the shifts in identity experienced by students as they move toward ‘becoming and being’ co-inquirers.

I found the limitations described around the timing of student engagement very helpful for planning how to include students with research. As the article revealed, while this is a desirable focus, student enrolment times, ethics approval processes etc may make it challenging to fully structure a research project that can begin with student input from project inception.

As a faculty member who is increasingly looking for ways to include students with research, the article helped me to think through my commitment toward doing research “with” rather than “for” and also gave me some ideas for helping to foster student interest as undergraduate researchers.  When we use the word partnership, we sometimes imply equity but researchers and educators will have to go a bit deeper within themselves to consider how much of a partnership they really want to have with their student researchers.

Reference:
Werder, C., Thibou, S., & Kaufer, B.  (2012).  Students as co-inquirers: A requisite threshold concept in educational development?  Journal of Faculty Development, 26, 34-38.