Aspirations and assumptions: A researcher's account of pupil involvement in school-based research

Tessa L. Mearns, Do Coyle, Rick de Graaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a research project conducted in collaboration with 10 'pupil co-researchers' (PCRs) and their classes in a secondary school in the Netherlands. The main research tools employed were online and face-to-face group discussions, in which PCRs contributed as consultants, co-designers and assistants. The research proved a learning experience for both the adults and the young people involved and led to the collection of insightful qualitative data. Working collaboratively with pupils, however, presented a number of challenges. Ethical issues such as consent, inclusion and the pressure placed on pupils, and logistical challenges such as the availability of time and resources, were particularly prominent. Perhaps the most valuable challenge, however, was the opportunity that this research presented to the adult researcher to reflect upon the role played by her own assumptions when working with young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-457
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

I wish to thank sincerely the PCRs and their classmates who helped me on this journey of discovery, and whose contribution continues to be the inspiration for my research. Thanks are also due to the school in which this research was carried out.


  • bilingual education
  • inclusive research
  • students as researchers


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