Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR)

“CPAR projects are “rooted in the belief that those most impacted by research should take the lead in framing the questions, design, methods, analysis and determining what products and actions might be most useful in effecting change.” (Torre, 2009, p.1)


CPAREducators were chosen through an extensive recruitment & application process, and included 24 people from Cambridge Public Schools.

The educators included:

  • Researchers from 8 elementary schools, all 5 Upper Schools, and CRLS;
  • School-day and Out-of-School-Time educators;
  • Coaches, counselors, specialists, classroom teachers;
  • Over 50% educators of color

The mission of these 24 educators was to:

  • Identify research topics & form research teams
  • Craft research questions
  • Finalize study designs
  • Finalize study protocols (interview questions, etc.)
  • Data collection forthcoming

Our initial research question
What does it mean to create an authentically participatory process around the investigation of a community-level question?

Our efforts to address this question included:

  • Proactive relationship and trust building
  • Consensus-based decision making for all decisions
  • Equalizing support team stipends with hourly rate of researchers
  • Frequent researcher input and feedback
  • Participatory budgeting processes for each team and collective work
  • Building an active, diverse, and empowered support team
View Findings

What People are Saying About This Experience

"This has been a life changing experience.”

“I left feeling energized and re-motivated.”

“[CPAR] gives me hope and makes me want to keep working outside the classroom to better this community and district.”

“[Our CPAR work demonstrates] the power of having educators of different backgrounds, grade levels, levels of experience, areas of interest, [and] subject areas together in one space where our voices are heard and valued not as tokenism, but as actionable information and valuable experience. We are not only knowledgeable but able to conduct research in ways that are equitable, that protect privacy, and that offer insights otherwise ‘invisible’ in our district community.”

“Support from the Support Team (this is the most mentorship and support I've received since being in this district).”

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