Children As Co-Researchers

Within the Multi-STEM project, we aim to involve newcomer children as stakeholders and co-researchers. We want them to actively participate and share their thoughts, experiences, and expectations regarding using their home language in education. It is also important that children are part of designing and implementing the multilingual strategies that Multi-STEM aims to use.

During my master’s degree in linguistics, I observed the educational trajectory of my twins since starting school as newcomers in the Netherlands. This showed me, both theoretically and practically, the necessity for research that investigates ways to improve the education of newcomers and most importantly, ways to create equal opportunities for these students.

In my thesis, “Towards more multilingual practices in the mathematics assessment of young refugee students”, I looked at the role of language in academic performance. We had newcomers take exams in both the school language and their home language. My research showed that the language in which these pupils take the exam has a significant influence on the results. Furthermore, parents can often provide valuable information about their child’s level of mathematics.

This is particularly important since newcomer children frequently need to transfer between schools both in and out of the Netherlands. The result is that these children often experience interrupted schooling and that their school reports are incomplete. Therefore, it is incredibly important that teachers look at ways to involve parents in assessing the level of mathematics of newcomer children.

Within Multi-STEM my aim is twofold. First, to promote the participation of newcomer children in scientific research and academia in order to get more insights into what they think about the use of their home languages in educational settings. Second, to empower newcomer children as co-researchers under the motto: “nothing about us without us”. In order to do this, I will be working together with the museum Teylers and newcomer schools in Haarlem.

– Zahraa Attar | Researcher, subproject ‘Child’.

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