Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

“The most revolutionary aspect of YPAR is the realization of the full humanity of young people. YPAR demands that we embrace the potential in all students by offering them opportunities to name, explore and analyze their experiences, and respect them as authors and experts on their own lives. It also demands humility of adult researchers, reminding them of their duty to honor those who entrust them with their stories and to strive to share in the struggle toward social justice.” ~Mirra, Garcia & Morrell, 2016

What is YPAR?
YPARYPAR is a form of critical participatory action research that centers youth voices and youth participation in the process. Like other CPAR projects, YPAR projects typically involve:

  • The collective investigation of a problem;
  • A reliance on indigenous knowledge to better understand the problem;
  • The desire to take individual and/or collective action to deal with the stated problem. - McIntyre, 2000

The Research
During the summer of 2018, three adults and 19 young people from the Cambridge Public Schools met daily, for 4-5 hours, over the course of six weeks. Students were recruited through word-of-mouth or assigned by the MYSEP.

The students self-selected to form three research teams for their summer work. Each research team explored one of the following research questions:

  • How do students talk about what makes a class most engaging, in terms of curriculum and teaching styles?
  • How do students talk about their relationship with teachers, how teachers treat them, and how teachers provide support for students?
  • How do students’ perceptions of their coaches investment in their future as students and/or athletes affect their post-high school life as students and/or athletes?

Youth researchers found quantitative data by providing peers with an anonymous survey and qualitative data by conducting interviews and focus groups.

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