PhD student receives Faculty of Science poster award

16 November 2011


Christina Ergler who is a PhD candidate in the School recently received an award at the Faculty of Science Poster competiion and her poster was entered into the University’s Exposure Competition.

In her poster titled “Evaluating a mixed-method approach to solve the puzzle of children’s ‘play deficit disorder’” Christina reflects on the merits of methods applied in her PhD studies. Twenty children (8-10 years) resident in inner city apartments and suburban housing in Auckland revealed their daily play experiences in summer and winter through a range of methods: A GPS tracking system logged the children’s daily movements complemented by a travel diary. Elicited maps identified liked and disliked play spaces and interviews explored these data further. In addition, the children’s perspectives were complemented with a parental questionnaire and interview. A triangulation of different methods enabled her to engage with, and bring meaning to, the complexities of children’s lives and play opportunities in their neighbourhoods. In her poster Christina concluded that despite the merits that a triangulation method offers for improved understanding, the approach is time-demanding for the researcher, children and parental participants.

Christina began her research career as a mixed method researcher in geography at the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität in Bonn, Germany. Her research interests span across social, cultural and health geography. For example, in a recent article she discusses “entitlements to health care” in light of emotional well-being of slum inhabitants in Chennai, India. Her PhD project, which is funded by a Health Research Council project ‘Understanding the Relationships between Activity and Health’ explores children’s well-being in vertical and suburban environments revealing social aspects contributing to the increasing obesity epidemic and associated health risks. Over the last few years Christina has developed a methodology that acknowledges children's expertise for solving societal problems, an approach which she has labelled 'beyond passive participation’.