Exploring Children’s Constructions of COVID-19 Using Participatory Approaches: A Grounded Theory Study

Prof Doc Thesis

Pirttijarvi, K. 2022. Exploring Children’s Constructions of COVID-19 Using Participatory Approaches: A Grounded Theory Study. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v4qx
AuthorsPirttijarvi, K.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Covid-19 has had a seismic impact on the world and one which continues to reverberate. The pandemic has disrupted day-to-day living in the UK in ways arguably not seen since the Second World War. Research has begun to emerge marking the different ways in which groups and societies have experienced and responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, children have, for the most part, been left out of the conversation. Though not a homogenous group, children can be seen as possessing their own cultural knowledge. Yet, historically, children’s voices have been constrained and distorted by adults, either wilfully or not, through prejudicial attitudes and/or adult-centric bias. The present research recognises structural, epistemic injustices faced by children and positions children as best-placed to represent their understanding about the world.
The present research sought to understand how children have constructed the Covid-19 pandemic in ways that respect them as rights-holders, autonomous individuals, and meaning-makers. Participatory approaches and constructivist grounded theory methods were used to facilitate more equitable research, with five child co-researchers devising many aspects of the methodology. Each co-researcher (age 9-10) was partnered with a younger pupil participant (age 6-7). Together, research partners integrated drawings with dialogue to co-generate a rich dataset comprising children’s constructions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Data were collected and analysed concurrently across two timepoints (July 2021 and November 2021), with dissemination discussions taking place in January 2022.
Co-researchers engaged in constant comparative analysis to progressively sort and synthesise their data, and to inductively raise them to an abstract level. Through collaborative analysis, co-researchers ultimately raised five pivotal concepts from their data, which together formed a constructivist grounded theoretical framework. It comprises ideas about managing significant challenges and changes, while developing a sound knowledge base of their situations. The children’s final product, and the process by which their knowledge was generated, have important implications for Educational Psychology practice and epistemic conduct across wider society.

KeywordsChildren; Covid-19; voice; social constructionism; social constructivism; grounded theory; inductive analysis
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v4qx
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Publication dates
Online18 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted22 Jun 2022
Deposited22 Nov 2022
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