Research project

The Playful Researchers

Eliciting children’s voices through creative and playful research methods

On this page


Start date

May 2022

Completion date

June 2024

The Playful Researchers have been formed within UoD to draw together and capitalise upon staff expertise within early childhood and play pedagogies.

In addition to conducting broader research into concepts of play, the main focus of this group will be in developing innovative, creative and playful research methods to elicit children’s voices. This research group therefore seeks to align participatory research methods with developmentally appropriate practice in the early years.

This project currently has three strands:

  • Strand One - Children’s Voices in Action in the Primary School
  • Strand Two - Conceptualising Play
  • Strand Three - Eliciting children’s voices through creative and playful research methods


Strand One - Children’s Voices in Action in the Primary school

This project is in its infancy and the research surrounding it is on-going (further details and findings expected January 2023). However, after the research team’s initial engagement with the primary school, the Headteacher and class teacher involved provided the following feedback about the impact which working with The Playful Researchers had.

Nicola Wilson and Linzi Rankin, teachers at Carronshore Primary School, talked about the impact working with Lynsey and Duncan had on their professional development.

Initial thoughts

These were their initial thoughts at the end of the first engagement week, prior to formal feedback on the research findings being shared.
Listen to Nicola Wilson, P2/1 Teacher Listen to Linzi Rankin, P1 Teacher
Strand Two - Conceptualising Play

This research project is in its infancy, but seeks to uncover staff perceptions of play and to explore how children of different ages conceptualise play.

In addition to this, Dr Lynsey Burke is working a school in Clackmannanshire to support them with the development of their play pedagogy. This work will be continuing throughout 2022 – 2023, but after the first two initial sessions with the staff team, the Headteacher has provided the following feedback.

“From the initial 2 sessions, the biggest and best impact has already happened which is the motivation and excitement of staff. Lynsey has managed to inspire staff to work together to develop their play pedagogy and be committed to ensuring our young people have quality experiences. I am looking forward to the next stages of gathering evidence, responsive planning and purposeful adult interactions. ”

Julie McKenna, Headteacher, Redwell Primary School

“Working with Dr Burke has already had such a positive impact on the development of Play in our school. The input we have received has increased our own knowledge and understanding and as group we have a strategic plan to move forward. Dr Burke has helped us involve our children and families on our play journey and we re looking forward to the rest of the session. ”

Alison Given, Principal Teacher, Redwell Primary School

“As a member of teaching staff taking on my first leadership role within my establishment, working with Dr Burke has been an immensely valuable experience. I have learned key knowledge and skills when it comes to leading a team of people and staying focussed on agreed outcomes. Dr Burke has provided our establishment with a clear path for progression and a fresh focus and motivation to become a sector leading primary establishment. ”

Emma McCole, Class Teacher, Redwell Primary School