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What's Occurring? The What, Why, When and How of Research Capacity Building in a Modest Pilot Project with EAL Learners and Science

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This paper reports on an ESRC/HEFCW-funded research project which was part of a research capacity building programme initiated through the Welsh Education Research Network (WERN). The research team included a mix of early career and more experienced education researchers from two Welsh universities and undertook an exploratory pilot study on visual elicitation methods for assessing the conceptual understanding of science concepts with pupils for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL).

Affordances for collaborative learning about the conduct of research derived from hands-on team work and co-participation in the research design, development of instruments and fieldwork in a primary school. Sections of the paper report the chronology of the 'learning by doing' which brought the team together as they sought secondary data on EAL pupils, negotiated access through hierarchies of consent, created research tools and organized translations with Polish Learning Support Assistants (LSAs). A learning journey was undertaken which had positive outcomes for all players including the differentially experienced research team of early career reseaercher (ECR), second career researcher (SCRs) and midcareer researchers (MCRs), bilingual Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), the Ethnic Minority Advisory Service (EMAS) and hosting school. Our collaborative team was heuristic in several ways which built up research capacity.

This paper draws upon a variety of material: field notes, observational records, visual material, analytic memos and researcher diaries to illustrate the approaches used to trial the methods and to highlight what and how we learned by undertaking a pilot study together.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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