I have been working with two postgraduate students on my project on ethnic minority attainment. At the start, I felt the main benefit was that as students from minority ethnic backgrounds they would be closer to the student experience. This would reduce the power distance between the interviewers and the students being interviewed and hopefully produce some insightful and interesting stories.
What was also obvious, with hindsight, was the additional benefits they would bring to the project. We have only just started interviewing but for me so far they have:
- Challenged my thinking
- Generated useful ideas
- Have different contacts
Challenged my thinking
They have challenged my thinking from both their student and their background perspective. They have help me clarify my ideas and message and what we want to do. They have helped in shaping the interview schedule.
Generated useful ideas
Two heads are better than one, as they say! I would not have come up with all the ideas that we have generated as a team. This has been particularly helpful in recruitment of participants.
Have different contacts
The students are very much connected to different networks than I am. This haas proven helpful in recruitment but going forward this could be extremely useful in driving the implementation and future phases of the project. Effectively, we have a ‘steering group’ of interested people who can guide how the project goes forward.
I am sure this is just the start of my learning on this project and the start of the great benefits that the student researchers can bring to the project. In the process, I hope the students are learning valuable skills. Note to self: must ask them what benefits they feel they are getting from the project so far.