Designing a collaborative research project as a space for the enunciation of the 'subjugated knowledges' of early school leavers

Year: 1998

Author: Hattam, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In collaboration with the Department for Education, Training and Employment, and the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, the Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching co-ordinated the design of a research study which aims to develop a sophisticated account of early school leaving in South Australian secondary schools. Falling retention rates in the 1990s in South Australia has prompted increased concern to explain this phenomena with practical intent. For the past decade, the best contemporary Australian research in this area has generally ignored 'student voice' and has generally been either policy analysis or interpretation of quantitative data. To augment this work we have designed a study which aims to "name silenced lives" (McLaughlin & Tierney, 1993) - provide a space for the enunciation of the 'subjugated knowledges' of early school leavers.

In this paper I outline:

• the knowledge interests of the collaborating partners;

• how these interests have been carried in the research design;

• the features of the methodology - quantitative, qualitative, longitudinal, students-as-researchers;

• the need for research on early school leaving that focus's upon (ex)students explanations and understandings;

• our design for sustained collaboration during the research process;

• our design for practical intent - how might the research process translates into meaningful reform? and

• an after-thought - can these voices be heard?