Types of PAR

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

What is it?

YPAR is an approach to community development in which youth take the lead, partnering with adults to create or find a solution to a problem they identify.

Examples of YPAR

YoUthROC

YPAR Spring Break Camp for student research team in Faribault (image via YoUthROC's Instagram)

YoUthROC is a community and University-connected youth research team that works out of North Minneapolis. The team aims to:

  1. Provide support and training for youth research
  2. Conduct YPAR projects that bring us closer to our goal of developing an accessible research space that centers and empower BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) youth;
  3. Model kinship, nourish connections, and sustaining reciprocal community partnerships; and
  4. Reclaim Northside spaces and return them to spaces that serve the community’s BIPOC youth.
@youthroc.umn on Instagram.

Echoes of Incarceration

Summer camp and school workshops (image via Echoes of Incarceration site)
Junior crew - year-round documentary production (image via Echoes of Incarceration site)
Senior Crew, Echos Journalism Initiative (image via Echoes of Incarceration site)
“We believe that if young people are the most disproportionately impacted by the justice system, they should be given both tools and a platform to raise their voices and advocate for reform.”

Echoes of Incarceration is a project based in New York that teaches youth impacted by the criminal justice system how to use film to speak about their experiences and to educate criminal justice stakeholders on how the justice system impacts young adults in the U.S. The initiative ensures that the youths learn how to make films through intensive training camps. In the final stages, the senior film crew is able to work on more ambitious documentaries, partnering with bigger organizations like Democracy Now, Upworthy, and Sesame Street.

Especially once partnering with other groups, the films and documentaries created by these youths allow an even larger audience to look at crime and punishment in a different way, potentially leading to future changes in attitudes and public policy surrounding criminal justice.

The Youth Researchers for a New Education System Project (YRNESP)

"It is our hope that our findings will aid in the work toward improving our schools, especially in the redressed distribution of resources and the distribution of leadership and participation."

The YRNESP was a project that took place in 2007, supported by the Collective of Researchers on Educational Disappointment and Desire (CREDD). The project used a quantitative survey, qualitative focus groups, and the Problem Tree to document New York City students’ experiences in and visions for public schools.

As the researchers collected and analyzed data, they were able to better understand youth perspectives on: what supports and resources are or are not provided by schools; and school organization and leadership. This analysis allowed them to hone the questions they used in their surveys and to touch on more specific areas of concern as they continued the project.

CHAMACOS Youth Council (YC)

Salinas: CHAMACOS Youth Council (image via CHAMACOS site)
YC is “a way to get together and talk about the problems in our community; to make them better… it is a responsibility that comes together as a positive outcome in our community that many don’t know is being made.”
- Carlos and Irene Vera, former YC members

The CHAMACOS Youth Council (YC) is a group of young people based in Salinas, California, devoted to addressing the issues surrounding environmental health and justice. To do so, the group conducts their research through YPAR projects, their most recent being the Health and Environmental Research in Make-up Of Salinas Adolescents (HERMOSA) project. YC enrolled 100 Latina Salinas girls to participate in the research, interviewing them on their make-up habits and routines and taking their urine samples in order to measure their exposure to chemicals in beauty products.

Their findings led HERMOSA youth researchers to help young teens understand that some personal care products increase their exposure to chemicals. As the FDA cannot fully test and regulate chemicals found in cosmetics, the HERMOSA researchers continue to advocate for changes in public policy.

Photovoice and The Impact on Life in Marginalized Communities

"Our solution to the lack of pedestrian safety in working class neighborhoods is to build sidewalks. Through our research, we’ve been trying to bridge the divide between the community and our institutions." (image via Research for Change's Instagram)

Two professors of social work at the University of Nevada, Reno have partnered with local high school students on a project using the concepts of “photovoice” to document the impacts of long-term environmental disasters in Nevada:

  1. Images teach.
  2. Pictures can influence policy.
  3. Community people ought to participate in creating and defining the images that shape healthful public policy.
  4. The process requires that planners bring to the table from the outset policymakers and other influential people to serve as an audience for community people’s perspectives.
  5. Photovoice emphasizes individual and community action.

VOYCE

VOYCE rally (image via VOYCE Facebook page)

A project driven by the belief that young people who are most directly affected by educational inequity are in the best position to develop meaningful and long-lasting solutions, VOYCE focuses on:

  1. Ending the use of harsh discipline policies that push students out of school and into prisons.
  2. Creating a safe and healthy learning environment through the implementation of mental and behavioral health supports and restorative discipline practices.
  3. Limiting the use of high-stakes testing and creating high-quality learning environments.

Polling for Justice

“Research on adolescents often makes it look like we’re the problem, but we wanted to show how public policies and institutions hurt certain communities and benefit others.”

“We are the ones who are impacted by public policies. Why don’t policymakers ask us what we think and what we think should change?”

“We use performer arts to show our data on education, public health, and the criminal justice system with the hopes that you will not only listen, but also be inspired to take action.”

Resources

Find additional resources, including the project links posted here, on our resources page.

Teacher Action Research (TAR)

What is it?

TAR is a method for educators to understand, evaluate, and improve their own practice.

Examples of TAR

Ryan Oto

"I want to explore some of the hidden parts of teaching and learning that researchers don't really have access to when they leave the classroom."
- Ryan Oto

Ryan Oto is currently a teacher at Brooklyn Center High School in Minnesota and has years of experience working with student researchers in YPAR projects. In 2018 as a history/social teacher in the twin cities, Oto interviewed graduating seniors at St. Paul Academy and Summit School to “better understand the history classroom experiences of students with historically marginalized identities.” He collaborated with Anita Chikkatur on an article examining the practices and his students’ experiences in a “History of Race” class at one of his previous schools.

Oto continues to work in other YPAR projects, encouraging students to use their own knowledge and strengths to identify and deal with issues in their own communities.

Generating Interest in Mathematics Using Discussion

"By relying too heavily on drill and practice, a teacher may lose any individual student insight into the learning process."
- Jessica Fricke

Middleschool teacher Jessica Fricke led an action research project with her 8th grade algebra students in 2007. Fricke hypothesized that discussion in the classroom, rather than pure drill and practice problems, would improve students’ interest in algebra. To test this, Fricke made a packet specifically to allow the students to discuss the process involved in coming to an answer as a group.

The students saw these packets as a way to discuss with their group members, a way to talk about algebraic concepts out loud and therefore more closely understand the material. Thus, Fricke found that discussion in a math class helps improve student interest and understanding, although the students still expressed a need for practice problems. Fricke concluded that a modified packet with both discussion questions and practice problems would be the next step to research.

Resources

Find additional resources, including the project links posted here, on our resources page.

Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR)

What is it?

CBPAR is an approach in which a project is co-led in all phases by community members and academic researchers, with the intent that findings will be used to change inequitable practices and systems.

Examples of CBPAR

Leading from the Roots

"The project goal is to identify, examine and strength the economic vitality and civic health of the Pacific Mountain region through folklife and tradition-bearing activities."

Leading from the Roots is a community-based PAR project investigating how folklife tradition-bearers in five Washington counties can play a role in reducing the region’s reliance on economic drivers that are unsustainable and therefore strengthen the rural communities, both economically and in terms of interpersonal connections.

The project is a partnership between the Arbutus Folk School and Fielding Graduate University and consequently aims to find other folk schools in the country that can also deepen their engagement and impact in their regional communities through a CBPAR endeavour.

Health for Somali, Latino & Hmong - SoLaHmo Partnership

The SoLaHmo Asset Tree (image via changemakers.org)
"We build upon the unique cultural strengths of Somali, Latino, Hmong, and other communities to promote health and wellness through community-based participatory action research (CBPAR), education, and policy."

The SoLaHmo Partnership is a CBPAR group based in West Side of St. Paul, MN in which member of Somali, Latinx, and Hmong communities work together with researchers and healthcare providers to promote health and wellness. The partnership aims to identify the healthcare needs of community members and to work with them to find solutions, making a healthy lifestyle more accessible and encouraging healthy choices.

SoLaHmo works in the reality that members of Somali, Latinx, Hmong, and other communities possess the knowledge, skills, and power to work as equal partners with researchers and healthcare professionals.

Resources

Find additional resources, including the project links posted here, on our resources page.

University-Community PAR (UCPAR) Collaborations

What is it?

University-Community PAR (UCPAR) Collaborations tend to be started by university-based scholars reaching out to community members to conduct collaborative research around community issues that are aligned with the scholars’ area of research and discipline.

Examples of UCPAR Collaborations

Anti-Displacement: The Untapped Potential of University-Community Cooperative Living

"The project investigates the landscape of residential displacement in Mantua, current affordable housing options, and how these options are understood by neighbors in need."

The Anti-Displacement project is a CBPAR project initiated by Drexel School of Education assistant professor Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD. The researchers believe that without education and dissemination of knowledge, the resolving of issues in residential displacement cannot begin. Thus, they aim to have conversations with residents in need about alternative and affordable housing options, hoping to highlight the urgent need for such options in Mantua, Philadelphia.

Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub

The members of the collaboration (image via ccwt.wceruw.org)
"The term "Paj Ntaub," or story cloth, is a narrative pictographic representation in fabric of the experiences of the HMoob people, who often address their history during the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia and as refugees. We call our study "Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub because this study presents the stories of the lives of HMoob American college students."

HMoob American undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin are currently working on a project examining the sociocultural and institutional factors that impact the college experiences of HMoob American students. Using interviews and observations with HMoob American college students along with data from the university’s campus and classrooms, the study aims to better understand the college lives of HMoob-American students through their own voices.

The Carleton-Faribault PAR Collaboration

"I haven't had a good relationship with the school system since none of my four children graduated from Faribault High School... I was concerned that many Latino students that I knew were dropping out of school and were working in construction and I wanted to discover what was happening at the high school."
- Cynthia Gonzalez

This collaboration is a partnership between Carleton College in Northfield, MN and the community in nearby Faribault, MN, funded by the Coporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). In the past decade, Faribault has had a rapid increase in Latinx and Somali residents, but the teaching force in Faribault has not changed to reflect the demographic, leading to challenges regarding high school dropout rates and pursuit of higher education among Latinx and Somali students.

The collaboration allows Latinx and Somali parents, young adults, and students as well as White teachers and administrators to gather information about their communities, experiences in Faribault, while collaborating with Carleton staff and faculty to learn about research methods and ethics. This project used elements of YPAR, TAR, and CBPAR.

Resources

Find additional resources, including the project links posted here, on our resources page.

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