Center for Urban Education

Youth Participatory Action Research Program

The Center for Urban Education is a national leader in youth participatory action research (YPAR). YPAR is a youth-led strategy for changing schools and communities using research-informed action. The Center currently holds two major federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education that focus on embedding YPAR into high schools to leverage its potential to make learning more engaging for students and to transform schools to be more equitable and just. The Center collaborates with multiple partners in its YPAR initiatives (see below), and the emerging product of this work can be found at this website

Project Description Staff
Critical Consciousness Development in Teacher Education This research study concerned the development of critical consciousness amoung undergraduate students preparing to become classroom teachers. It explored whether students enrolled in an introductory social foundations of education course experienced an increase in critical consciousness from the beginning to the end of the semester. This study improved our understanding of critical consciousness among undergraduate teacher candidates. Adam Voight (PI); Anne Galletta; Katherine Clonan-Roy; Glenda Cotner
Critical Social Analysis among Marginalized Youth This research study, funded by the Spencer Foundation, investigated critical social analysis—careful thinking about the root causes of societal issues—among a sample of high school students in Greater Cleveland. Critical social analysis has positive educational and developmental implications for marginalized youth and is a precondition for critical civic and political action. Phase one of the project measured critical social analysis and political ideology using a self-report survey to test for differences in the former between self-identified liberals and conservatives. The qualitative phase two involved in-depth, one-on-one interviews with youth to explore the process of analyzing societal issues and influences on that process. This study advanced our understanding of marginalized youths’ critical social analysis and inform educational interventions.  Adam Voight (PI); Matthew Diemer (University of Michigan, Co-PI); Alexandrea Golden; Tamara Coats; Elizabeth Klancher; Steven Sanders; Regina Giraldo-García
Project HighKEY (High-School Knowledge and Education through YPAR) HighKEY, funded by the Institute of Educaiton Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, is an initiative of the Cleveland Alliance for Education Research (CAER) that seeks to develop a YPAR innovation that can be embedded in core content area high school courses. Researchers from CSU, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), and the American Institutes for Research collaborate with teachers in four CMSD high schools to imagine creative ways that YPAR concepts can help bring to life English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and other curricula and make them more empowering and relevant to students. HighKEY was funded in 2020 and will run through 2025.  Adam Voight (PI); Molly Buckley-Marudas (Co-PI); Nicholas D'Amico (Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Co-PI); Sarah Peko-Spicer (American Institutes for Research, Co-PI); Rosalinda Godinez; Katelyne Griffin-Todd; Amir Javadi; Marissa Stock
School-Based Youth Participatory Action Research (SchYPAR) SchYPAR, funded by the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, works with teachers in 30 school districts across Ohio to explore how YPAR can be adapted to high schools and examine the outcomes for students, teachers, and schools. The goal of the project is to produce a resource that teachers around the world can use to do YPAR in their schools. SchYPAR was funded in 2021 and will run through 2027. The working version of the SchYPAR resource can be found on the SchYPAR website Adam Voight (PD); Molly Buckley-Marudas; Keith Bell (Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio); Rosalinda Godinez; Sarah Peko-Spicer (American Institutes for Research); Katelyne Griffin-Todd; Amir Javadi, Marissa Stock
Strengthening the Use of Research Evidence from Youth Participatory Action Research This research study, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, sought to understand how adult decision-makers in schools and districts use the results of youth participatory action research (YPAR). The study was conducted in seven school districts in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Ohio. The study employed a mixed-methods multiple-case study design to follow existing YPAR intitatives in each site to understand what contextual factors and characteristics of adults, youth, and the research itself influence the ways in which YPAR evidence is used. This study illustrated how and under what conditions YPAR evidence is used to inform K-12 policy and practice.  Emily Ozer (University of California, Berkeley, PI); Adam Voight (Co-PI); Ben Kirshner (University of Colorado, Co-PI)
Youth Participatory Action Research in the High School Curriculum This research study retrospectively examines the outcomes of a school-based youth participatory action research (YPAR) program in several high schools in Hemet, California. YPAR engages groups of young people in a process of identifying a problem in their schools or communities that they wish to ameliorate, collecting data to better understand the problem, analyzing the data, and using the results as the basis for action. This study demonstrates the effect of YPAR on participating students' academic achievement, attendance, and discipline infractions. The results of the study can be found in an article published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. Adam Voight (PI); Valerie Velez (Hemet Unified School District)

Notes: PI = Principal Investigator; Co-PI = Co-Principal Investigator; Co-I = Co-Investigator; PD = Project Director