Children's Research Centre
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Participatory Activities

Championing participatory activities

A range of participatory activities can be used with individuals or groups of children and young people to explore issues that concern them.

Illustration of two children dancing

Just like digital images, drawing and crafting participatory activities provide information that might not be revealed using other methods of data collection.  Participatory activities:

    • Can provide enjoyable rich experiences which adults as well as young people like to recall and discuss, and this provides even more information
  • If shared, can provide opportunities for adults and young researchers to develop strong research relationships which can help develop mutual understanding which helps to generate information
  • Are generally practical and accessible not relying upon highly developed written or oral communication skills. Activities enable young people to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the research process ways that are appropriate and engage them.

Examples of participatory activities include:

  • Creation of dance or drama performances to express feelings and depict understandings of topics
  • Composition and performance of songs and poems
  • Walking and exploring to record significant aspects of spaces and environments
  • Ranking activities, where participants are asked to rank ideas or issues in order of importance
  • Creating time lines, maps and mind mapping to connect and order events and ideas; identify new ideas and innovations
Young people themselves can be knowledgeable sources of creative research activities. Such activities can be adapted to use in a wide range of situations.
Sketch of mindmap bubbles

Research studies using participatory activities

Challenges of using participatory activities

Skilled facilitation is key to ensuring that the activity is inclusive, and responses are not dominated by one or two individuals. Like any other method it is important to realise that some young people may not enjoy some activities for instance some may be uncomfortable joining drama activities.

Illustration of adult facilitator supporting young researcher
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