Innovative new study into how well children understand law

Posted by ap507 at Jul 03, 2014 10:45 AM |
Dr Dawn Watkins receives £250,000 funding for research project

Dr Dawn Watkins (pictured), a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, has been successful in securing £250,000 funding from this year’s ESRC transformative research call for a project entitled ‘Where do I stand? Assessing children’s understanding of law as an empowering force in their lives through game-based research’. 

The project will seek to investigate how far, if at all, children aged 7-11 are aware of the various legal provisions that apply to them, and to assess how far children perceive themselves to be empowered by these laws in their day to day lives.   

An unusual and innovative feature of this study is the intention to use digital gaming as a means of gathering research data.  Rather than adopting a conventional interview-based approach, researchers will take an experimental approach, using simulation. Children will participate in a set of everyday activities (e.g. shopping) based in a virtual 'town' which present a series of linked dilemmas. The choices that they make will be tracked and captured by the game in the form of a digital narrative. 

Children who participate in the project will be invited to take the game home to play it with their parent or carer; the children are acting as co-researchers in examining how far the views of their adult carers serve to influence their decision-making. 

The transformative potential of this project is further developed in its accessing the children’s discussions as they navigate the game.  This will be facilitated by audio-recording the children’s conversations as they play the game in pairs at school, and then again with an adult at home.   This will provide data that gives an insight not only into what choices the children make, but why and how they make them. 

Dr Effie Law from the University’s Department of Computer Science will also be providing expertise to the project as a co-investigator on the research team. Two further part-time research assistant posts are also funded by the grant and, given the broad nature of the study; applications are encouraged from a wide range of backgrounds. 

For further information, see here.

Share this page: