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Discovering Meanings in Research with Children

 

Karen Liang Guo

Published in the NZRECE Journal, Vol, 13, 2010, 101-112. 

Abstract: Drawing on a qualitative research study this paper explores the aspect of ascribing meanings in research. It presents an example of research with young children which illustrates a ‘meaning-seeking’ experience. Ascribing meaning is an external realisation of an inner thought, with the emphasis on the uniqueness of children’s own voices and the researcher’s commitment to seeking information from children’s sociocultural contexts. A strong rationale for the importance of meaning in human experiences can be located in phenomenology. The idea of meaning as having its basis in social interactions has been manifested in the sociocultural paradigm. It is argued here that the phenomenological and sociocultural emphasis on ‘meaning’ as the core of life experiences constitutes a useful conceptual perspective which can guide research with children. This emphasis encourages researchers to explore research issues from research participants’ perspectives, grasp their interpretive frame, and understand the meanings that participants bring to them. This in turn provides a means for reaching a profound understanding of human actions, experiences and existence.

Introduction

This paper discusses an issue of qualitative educational research that is related to matters of ascribing meanings. It focuses on a methodological question: how can researchers ascribe meanings to the experiences of young children? With reference to a qualitative study with young children, this paper attempts to address this question from both phenomenological and sociocultural approaches regarding talking with children.


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