During your study of Block 4 you have considered various approaches to disseminating research findings and the approaches taken by different researchers. In Unit 22 you worked through a number of activities relating to designing a dissemination strategy. In this assignment you will build on the work you did in Block 4 in order to design and critically evaluate an appropriate dissemination strategy for a specific research project. This assignment will also help you when you write the third part of your EMA.
Design and critically evaluate an appropriate dissemination strategy for the research project discussed in Jones et al. (2020).
You will need to refer to:
Jones, L. et al. (2020) ‘“We are the same as everyone else just with a different and unique backstory”: identity, belonging and “othering” within education for young people who are “looked after”’, Children and Society, 34(6), pp. 492–506.
In this assignment you will focus on both designing and critically evaluating a dissemination strategy for a study examining the educational experiences of ‘looked after’ young people. The qualitative research used participatory methods to explore the challenges faced by the young people and the barriers that inhibited their sense of belonging within their schooling.
You are provided with a reference to an external source reporting this research: Jones et al. (2020) and you need to use this article which you can locate and access using the search skills you developed in TMA 03. Use the OU Library search facility to first find the journal title, then use the information in the reference to navigate to the correct volume and issue to locate the article. Once you have located the article, download a copy to your own computer and read it.
The TMA task asks you to design and critically evaluate an appropriate dissemination strategy for the research project by Jones et al. (2020). As you read the article, make a note of aspects of the research and research findings you consider should be disseminated to the research community and also to others who might be interested in this research study. You should pay particular attention to dissemination strategies for the young people who took part in the research and how you might present the data to them in an informative, useful and ethical way. As you read, note other factors that you think may be of interest or relevance, for example, you may wish to read the research findings and recommendations in some detail and consider whether these are specific to the location, or the age group, where and with whom the research was undertaken or whether they might have relevance elsewhere. Ask yourself:
Why does research matter? (Be clear about how and why a particular piece of research is significant.)
Who are the audiences for the research? (Be clear the research can be important and relevant in all kinds of different ways to a range of different audiences.)
Who would be interested in the research findings and how they might be made aware of them? Here it is important to consider the role of the young people who took part in the research and how (or if) the findings should be disseminated to them.
You should also keep in mind the ethics of dissemination. If you are disseminating widely, how will you ensure anonymity? If you are disseminating to a small part (such as those who took part in the research), how would you ensure confidentiality?
Before starting your TMA, you are advised to review your notes from Section 2 of Unit 22. Take time to consider who the potential audiences are for this study, which findings are relevant to which audience(s) and how might each audience be reached.
It is not necessary to find out about the researchers who carried out the project nor the ways in which the results of the actual project were disseminated. You are being asked to think about how the results of this study could potentially be disseminated clearly, efficiently and ethically to the relevant audiences. Your assignment will be marked according to:
how well you are able to identify suitable audiences for the research – who should hear about the findings of this research?
how realistic your plans for reaching those audiences are – how might different audiences be engaged?
how well you think through the practical and ethical problems involved in disseminating the research.
The assignment not only asks you to design an appropriate dissemination strategy but also to critically evaluate it. In order to do this, you will need to refer to at least two sources from the module material in reflecting on your strategy. What are the strengths and limitations of your strategy? How does each part of the dissemination strategy contribute to the whole? Is your strategy appropriate for the different audiences you identify?
The TMA builds on key material discussed in Block 4. These brief notes may be useful as you consider which module sources to use in your TMA. In Chapter 15 of the Module Reader, Robb focuses on the different types of discourse within childhood and youth research that reflect the different approaches researchers employ to share their work with a range of audiences across academic, policy and practice arenas. Robb highlights how research dissemination is an important consideration for researchers during the planning stages of their research. Getting research into policy and practice, however, is not a straightforward task. In Chapter 16 of the Module Reader, Ruxton, and in Chapter 17, Pascal and Bertram, provide detailed examples of the complex process of linking research with policy and practice and the different strategies that can be used for engagement and dissemination.
Although this study may appear somewhat removed from the small-scale study you will design in your EMA project, similar principles apply and you will be able to use understanding developed here in Part 3 of your EMA.
There are many ways of structuring this assignment, including choosing whether to write an essay or a planning document, utilising sub-headings, tables, bullet points and other formatting devices. These suggestions do not have to be followed, but may be helpful if you are unsure how to approach writing this assignment.
Remember – An essay begins with careful and efficient planning. An essay plan helps you organise your ideas and design a strategy that communicates appropriate information to the relevant audiences.
In your introduction you could briefly describe the study described by Jones et al. (2020) and explain the main aims of your suggested dissemination strategy.
You could then explain the significance of the research and identify the audiences to whom the research findings are relevant. How and why is the research significant to different groups of research users? Who else may be interested in these research findings? What are the potential barriers to reaching particular audiences? Are there other potential difficulties to overcome?
You could then set out your suggested dissemination strategy. What will you be communicating to each of the audiences you have identified? How will you reach those audiences? Do not simply list and describe each element within the broader strategy, but provide details of how and why the different elements of the strategy will enable the results of the research to be communicated effectively and usefully to the different audiences. Consider the use of varied channels to engage with an audience and to facilitate communication and impact.
You also need to critically evaluate each of the elements in your strategy. You might do this either when discussing the different elements of the strategy or in a separate section of your TMA. Think about the practical and ethical problems involved in implementing the strategy, and show that you are aware of the limits of what researchers can achieve.
Finally, in a short conclusion, summarise the aims of your dissemination strategy and reflect on how effective you think it would be in meeting those aims.
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