Presentation on theme: "OUR SPACE?: OUR SPACE?: USING PHOTO-NARRATIVE TO EXPLORE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVES OF THEIR SCHOOLS’ EXTERNAL PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS A RESEARCH."— Presentation transcript:
OUR SPACE?: OUR SPACE?: USING PHOTO-NARRATIVE TO EXPLORE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVES OF THEIR SCHOOLS’ EXTERNAL PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS A RESEARCH PROJECT (PHD)
Inspiration Curious about litter in schools Curious about the effect of ‘homelessness’ on students Curious about the contradiction between the physical environment and modern pedagogy Developed, through life experience, an intuition that the physical environment was important to identity and wellbeing
Purpose To add to the body of knowledge about the relationship between student engagement and the external physical environments of schools so as to improve student engagement Student engagement is a widespread and growing problem in schools (Smyth and Fasoli 2007, Smyth et al. 2004, Angus et al. 2009, Slee 1995) Student engagement is strongly related to achievement and behaviour, particularly amongst certain student populations (Fredericks et al. 2005, Fredericks et al. 2004)
Purpose Student engagement is malleable, and responsive to changes in pedagogy, curriculum and the environment (Fredericks et al. 2005, Finn and Rock 1997, Appleton et al. 2006, Gruenewald 2003a, McGregor 2004b) Research has established a solid relationship between school connectedness and student engagement (Osterman 2000, Marks 2000, Finn and Voelkl 1993, Goodenow 1993) The role played by a school’s external physical environment with respect to student connectedness and engagement remains relatively unexplored territory (Comber and Nixon n.d., Gruenewald 2003a)
Research questions 1. How does the physical environment influence the way in which middle school students feel about themselves, their school and the value of their education? 2. In what ways do middle school students’ perceptions of their physical environment influence their behaviour at school? 3. In what ways do middle school students negotiate, modify and use the physical environments at school?
Theorists and theory Freire – schools are dialogic - the way space school spaces are constructed and controlled speaks to students about their position not only in the education system but in wider society; and students speak back via their spaces relationships between the dominator (staff) and dominated (student) reflect the greater social context tendency of schools to reproduce themselves – cultural myths of the dominator are positioned as normative
Theorists and theory Bourdieu – “Self-selecting school” – success is determined by one’s proximity to the dominant discourses “Cultural arbitrary” - the culture implemented is that of those who have the power to implement it and it most serves the material and symbolic interests of those dominant groups or classes To prevent themselves from feeling out of place, people who move into a new space fulfil the conditions that the space requires Foucault - Power produces knowledge produces power
Theorists and theory Lefebvre – Spaces are socially constructed Spaces are trialectic Spaces are perceived (material, physical) Spaces are conceived (abstracted, planned) Spaces are lived (spaces of the imagination that transcend and recode perceived and conceived space)
Theorists and theory Massey - Places : have multiple identities, and thus there is no single shared sense of place. This can be a source of richness but also implies contestation. identities are formed out of the particular set of social relations which interact at a particular location ‘identities’ of places are constructed through the specificity of their interaction with other places rather than by counterposition to them. are open and porous networks of social relations have and have always had unfixed identities, no essential character - the social relations out of which they are constructed are dynamic and changing. The juxtaposition of social relations constantly produces new social effects.
Young people and space – theory & research Childhood and adolescence is socially constructed (Smyth et al. 2004, Cormack 1996b, Lesko 2005, Sibley 1995, Carrington 2006, Zevenbergen 2007) Constructions of adolescence are overwhelmingly negative (Cormack 1996a, Carrington 2006), which legitimises adult control of adolescent bodies, time and spaces (Grossberg 2001, Thomson 2008, Malone 2008, Saltman 2005, Sternberg 2004, Prosser 2006) School spaces are perceived but also conceived (Lefebvre 1991) Students are co-producers of space (Massey 1994) School spaces are not neutral or empty, but rather act powerfully on students, pedagogy and culture, eg. physical environments prohibit and construct social hierarchies (Gruenwald 2003a, McGregor 2004b)
Young people and space – theory & research Contemporary schools remain highly regulated, hierarchical environments (Smyth et al. 2004, Fisher 2004, Tomazin 2009) School spaces speak to students about their position not only in the education system but in wider society (Freire 1985, Giroux 1989) The constriction of school space takes place against a backdrop of diminishing access to public spaces outside school (Abbott-Chapman and Robertson 2009, Williams et al. 2009) Young people value opportunities for independence and exploring (Abbott-Chapman and Robertson 2009, Kriesberg and Frederick 1999, Chawla 1997)
Young people and space – theory & research Adolescents have developed a range of behaviours and strategies to gain some control over their physical environments at school eg. Truancy and drop out Marking out space Modifying space Breaking school rules about space (Childress 2004, Blackman 1998, Matthews, Taylor, Percy-Smith and Limb 2000, Valentine 1996, Hemphill 2009, Smyth et al. 2004, Fine 1991, Willis 1981) Spatial literacy has great potential to empower young people in and connect them to their school spaces ( Comber et al. 2006, Wright 2004)
Methodology “To take the most obvious example, I’m sure a woman’s sense of place in a mining village – the spaces through which she normally moves, the meeting places, the connections outside – are different from a man’s. Their ‘senses of the place’ will be different.” (Massey 1994, p.154)
Methodology Method informed by research goals, theory and particular needs of cohort: Subjective - student voice Qualitative Participatory Discursive Inclusive
Methods Two socially disadvantaged schools – why? Invited 10 purposively selected socio-economically disadvantaged secondary schools Most disengaged students are socio-economically disadvantaged and somewhat out of step with the ‘cultural arbitrary’ (“working class”) (Fredericks et al. 2004) Two accepted Year 9 – why? in Australia disengagement, feelings of alienation, boredom and unproductive behaviour are at their highest in the early years of secondary school (Chadbourne 2001, Angus et al. 2009) mitigates against the disruption associated with transition (Jindal- Snape and Foggie 2008)
Methods Phase 1: Gathering contextual data printed/published information distributed by the participant schools and government bodies socio-economic context zone boundaries maps enrolment numbers school card enrolment cultural composition Photographs Why?
Methods Phase 2: Photo-narrative – why? effective method for engaging and empowering the poor and marginalised including young people (Wang et al. 1996; Cook and Hess 2007; Strack et al 2004) those affected by a particular issue or experience are best positioned to understand it ( Wang et al. 1996) enables the exploration of multiple realities and the foregrounding of “unimportant details” ( Schratz and Steiner-Loffler 1998, p.533) inclusive - helps to overcome any language barriers or learning disorders that can facilitate authentic participation (Thomson 2008)
Photo-narrative questions Prompting questions 1. Which spaces do you feel the most comfortable in? 2. Which spaces don’t you feel comfortable in, even though you are allowed to go in them? 3. If the Prime Minister came to your school, where would you take her? 4. Where do the popular students hang out? 5. Where does a student go if they don’t have many friends? 6. If I wanted to find evidence that you exist (when you’re not at school) where in the spaces outside the classroom would I go? 7. Which spaces do you feel are the most controlled by others? 8. In which spaces do you feel you have the most freedom? 9. Are there any spaces where you don’t feel safe? 10. What spaces say the most about who you are? 11. What space in the school would you wave a magic wand over?
Methods Phase 3: Short interview to confirm photo-sequence to enable the student to construct a narrative about their external environment at school approximately 30 minutes long prompting questions used – specific and general recorded on video
Interview questions Photo-ellicitation questions Can you describe what you see in this photo? Why did you take this photo? What happens in this space? Who belongs in this space? Can anyone come into this space? How do you feel when you are in this space? How do you act when you are in this space?
Interview questions General questions Can you think of five words to describe your school’s physical environment? What do you like about your school? What don’t you like about your school? Where do you go at recess and lunch time generally? Why do you go there? What can you tell me about the way other students behave in the yard / corridors etc? What can you tell me about the way other students behave in the classroom? If you were the principal what would you do to improve the spaces outside the classrooms? Do you think a school’s physical environment affects how students behave? Do you think a school’s physical environment says anything about its students? What do you think people outside of the school think about your school?
Data analysis The plan not a comparative study all data will be coded coding will informed by the literature and according to common themes data will then be used to weave a narrative about the perspectives and experiences of the participants However based on current journey, this plan is likely to change!
Challenges / mistakes so far... Ethics – originally had a observation phase Sourcing schools over researched self-protective very busy! Data collection student interest consent forms technology
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