Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

In the Light of Shared Words: Collaborative Writing in a Research Study on Student Voice in Spanish Schools

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

In the Light of Shared Words: Collaborative Writing in a Research Study on Student Voice in Spanish Schools

Article excerpt


This article is part of a research study funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (1), recently concluded. The aim of this larger study was to expand opportunities for students to participate and take decisions on the design, management and evaluation of any aspect of school life (curriculum, organization, school climate, co-existence and so on).

Theoretical arguments underlying this research, described in previous works (Susinos & Haya, 2014; Susinos, Haya, & Ceballos, 2015; Susinos & Rodriguez-Hoyos, 2011), are firmly supported by what has come to be known as the student voice movement (Bragg, 2007; Fielding, 2011; Rudduck & Flutter, 2007). The ultimate goal is the development of schools that are more inclusive (Bolivar, 2004; Stoll & Fink, 1999) and democratic (Apple & Beane, 2000; Dewey, 2004; Fielding, 2007), placing students as agents, that is, as "authorised voices" for school improvement. The experiences developed in our project should be regarded as examples of "distributed agency" (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 1999; Gaitan, 2010; Hart, 1992; Rudduck & Flutter, 2007; Susinos, 2009) and urge us to think about which Bernstein (2000) terms "'acoustics of the school': Whose voice is heard? Who is speaking? Who is hailed by this voice? For whom is it familiar?" (Bernstein, 2000, p. 21).

More specifically, the objective of this article is to describe the final phase of this research project, which corresponds to the elaboration of a book of teacher narrative reports, titled "When everyone counts. Student participation experiences in schools" (Susinos-Rada, Ceballos-Lopez, Saiz-Linares, in press) that compiles some of the student voice experiences. This book is the result of a collaborative writing process between researchers and teachers participating in the experience and it is mainly directed to other educational agents, such as teachers and school counselors. In this article we highlight how collaborative research opens diverse spaces for meeting and negotiation between researchers and educational practitioners along different phases of the process. This collaborative process reaches maximum intensity in the last step of production and dissemination of the research results in a collaborative written narration where none of the voices reverberated more than others.

This is one of the most original contributions of this project, because while research based on a collaborative perspective is more present in the design and development phases in Spain, there are very few opportunities for participants to make decisions during the evaluation and dissemination stages. Similarly, research reports are traditionally regarded as individual writing spaces authored by academics. From a logical positivist perspective, academic writing should be "value free" and belong to a single, impersonal author. However, according to Elizabeth St. Pierre (2014), the notion of a single, independent author outside the text has been brought into question by authors such as Foucault, Barthes and Derrida. On the contrary, writing should be regarded as an "assemblage" of writing, ideas, readings and previous experiences which are brought together in a unique and original text whose authorship is unattributable or multiple. In this regard, we agree with St. Pierre when she says that collaboration not only takes place between real authors who are present in the writing process but also with numerous absent authors, given the interweaving that exists between reading and writing. Therefore, we consider that our book is the result of collaborative writing (not only between the signatory authors, but also between many other absent authors) constituting some sort of assemblage and whose construction process is impossible to trace or map.

More precisely, we recognize the value of generating shared narrations on three essential elements. First of all, narration is a unique and powerful tool for shared reflection between researchers and practitioners. …

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