The Urban Review

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 868–892 | Cite as

Youth Participatory Action Research as an Approach to Sociopolitical Development and the New Academic Standards: Considerations for Educators

  • Mariah KornbluhEmail author
  • Emily J. Ozer
  • Carrie D. Allen
  • Ben Kirshner


Administrators and teachers face changes prompted by the shift to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) offers a promising approach to supporting students in mastering new content standards, while also offering experiences that promote their sociopolitical development and civic agency. In YPAR, students work with a teacher or other adult ally to critically reflect upon the social and political forces influencing their lives, identify a pressing problem or school need, study it through systematic research, and then develop an action plan to raise awareness or change a policy. Because of its emphasis on educational relevance, critical consciousness, and social justice, YPAR is an especially promising strategy with young people who experience racism or other forms of marginalization in school. In this article we describe the YPAR cycle, make an argument for how it creates opportunities for academic learning, sociopolitical development, and youth leadership, and provide examples of what this might look like in practice. YPAR offers a curricular approach that addresses academic objectives while also supporting democratic education and the sociopolitical development of students.


Common core National Generation Science Standards English Language Arts Sociopolitical development Youth Participatory Action Research 



All four authors would like to thank the American Education Research Association for funds that supported a research conference addressing themes in this issue. Ozer's research on youth-led participatory research described in this chapter was supported by a William T. Grant Scholars’ Award and funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ozer thanks the high school students who participated in the UC-Berkeley Peer Resources YPAR projects; San Francisco Peer Resources and SFUSD for collaboration in the research projects; and the University of California-Berkeley graduate and undergraduate research teams who assisted with the research. Kirshner would also like to thank the Spencer Foundation for funds that supported the design and implementation of Critical Civic Inquiry.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariah Kornbluh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emily J. Ozer
    • 2
  • Carrie D. Allen
    • 3
  • Ben Kirshner
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Human EcologyUniversity of Wisconsin, MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of Colorado, BoulderBoulderUSA

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