Co-creation is a central piece in NEMESIS model. Such a fancy word deserves a better explanation. What follows is an attempt at translating it into educational jargon. I’ll be indulging in two conceptual leaps to make my point.
NEMESIS projects aims at bringing individuals from different backgrounds and ages (parents, SIPs, teachers, students) together to accomplish common goals. As a result NEMESIS Theory of Change postulates:
- “Students participating in co-creation processes will increase their confidence and sense of belonging and thus feel more empowered. Empowerment of students is linked to underlying psychological processes such as autonomy, belonging or connectedness.”
- “The involvement of SIPs in co-creation labs provides inspiration and motivation which will broaden the horizons of students and trigger them to engage in social action and increase civic engagement. […]”
Now, pretending the magic of co-creation will simply happen by gathering people, young and adults, together is a paradigmatic example of wishful thinking.
1st leap: Co-creation –> more and better youth-adult interactions?
The first leap consists in considering co-creation as an enabler of high-quality youth-adult interactions. We all know it does not always work that way but NEMESIS projects would ideally fall into the Youth-Adult Partnership category in the continuum of Youth-Adult Relationships model proposed by Jones & Perkins (2004).
|programs that are conceived and driven completely by adults
|adults provide guidance for youth, but the youth have some input in decision making, albeit limited by adults’ discretion
|Youth and adult participants have equal chances in utilizing skills, decision making, mutual learning, and independently carrying out tasks to reach common goals
|programs or projects where youth primarily develop the ideas and make decisions while adults typically provide needed assistance.
|programs or activities led exclusively by youth, with little or no adult involvement
Ok, so this gives us a glimpse on things to look for to gauge the quality of youth-adult interactions. In such a situation, youth and adults work collectively, engaging in one or more components of a project and fully exercising an equal opportunity to utilize decision making and other leadership skills. But, one may still wonder what’s the impact of high quality youth-adult interactions in young kids competence/skills development. Bear with me for the next conceptual leap.
2nd Leap: more and better youth-adult interactions –> expanded student voice?
Our second conceptual leap links high quality youth-adult interactions with student voice. Mitra wrote some time ago “More extensive student voice initiatives include collaboration between young people and adults to address problems in the school, with rare cases even allowing students to assume leadership roles in change efforts (Fielding, 2001; Mitra, 2005).”
The impact of student voice intiatives has been extensively studied. While most research has been undertaken in secondary school settings, Mitra and Serriere (2012) have identified similar impacts in primary school students mainly on the development of Agency, Belonging (sense of), Competence, Discourse and (Civic)Efficacy, or what the authors summarise as the ABCDE of student voice impact.
Collaboration between young people and adults to address problems in the school seems like a good description of what’s going on in most NEMESIS pilot projects (watch this and this) But what’s interesting here is what happens when you reframe these projects as student voice initiatives.
|So, what’s in it for NEMESIS?
Jones, K. R., & Perkins, D. F. (2005). Determining the quality of youth-adult relationships within community-based youth programs. Journal of Extension, 43(5), 1-10.
Mitra, D.L & Serriere, S.C. (2012) Student Voice in Elementary School Reform: Examining Youth Development in Fifth Graders. American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 743–774