International Reporters    

World-first student research program provides inspiration for all

By: Kate Berry, Katherine Haebich and Kendelle Levi
Parafield Gardens High
North of Adelaide the capital city of South Australia.

High school students will be able to have a real say in future education policies in a world-first scheme launched in Adelaide today.

The "Students as Researchers" program, launched by Education Minister Malcolm Buckby at the Helping Hand Aged Care this morning, has been run as a trial program since 1997.

So far more than 200 high school students - including some from this school - have taken part in the project by interviewing fellow students who left school early. This and future research will be used to improve the choices students have about subjects.

Photo: The Minister of Education,
Malcolm Buckby, being interviewed by student reporter at launch of the Students-as-Researchers Handbook at Parafield Gardens Helping Hand on - Tuesday 7 March 2000.

Minister Buckby described the program as being "on the leading edge of research", adding that report author Jan Edwards had been invited to deliver a paper on the project in New Orleans.

"It's also just another example of how students are no longer confined to the classroom," Mr Buckby told the launch.

"It will mature our students even more in terms of having them get out and do research."

Ms Edwards said the initial project had gone "extremely well".

"I was particularly impressed with students that had written articles," she said.

"There were over 80 articles by students of high quality."

The Students as Researchers idea came out of a research project put together by Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching, SSABSA and the Department of Education, Training and Employment to investigate early school leaving in South Australia four years ago.

Mr Ron Hattam, from the Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching, said the research project had "four strands" to it.

"One was checking out the data bases, the second and most important strand was actually interviewing 200 young people extensively, the third was having a Students as Researchers stand where we had young people doing reseach in schools into why their friends were leaving early, and the fourth strand was a longitudinal strand where we interview some students at least one more time a year after the first time," he said.

"The five schools that did it I think really got a lot out of it." Students from schools incluing Parafield Gardens High also received points for their SACE (South AUstralian Certificate of Education).

"We wanted young people to be involved in doing some research for us but given the sort of hectic lives of school students we couldn't see that it was possible unless it was actually done within an existing SACE unit," he said.

The president of the State Schools Students Association, Mitcham Girls High School student Candice Butler, told the launch the project would "help develop life skills."

"This will help students to reach their full potential," she said.

If you would like to see the photos our student photographer Kendelle Levi took of the launch, visit Students-as-Researchers Launch.