Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) combines research with activism. YPAR students will identify a social issue meaningful to them, search for its root causes, and develop an action plan to address it.
1) Identify a problem relevant to you, your friends, your family, or your community. (Examples: bullying; depression and self-harm among teens; the student loan crisis; climate change; "Frankenfood"; teen violence; confronting homophobia...) Don't worry if you don't have a specific issue in mind -- this is the first thing we'll talk about.
2) Learn the research skills necessary to dive deep into your issue. What do we already know about this topic? What do we still need to learn?
3) Design a research project to explore your issue. Working individually or in small teams, decide if you should use surveys, questionnaires, open-ended interviews, or take an ethnographic approach. We'll talk about the difference between "quantitative" and "qualitative" research methods and learn the basics of statistics. We'll also discuss research ethics.
4) Collect your data! This is the meat of the course.
5) Analyze your data. What themes emerged? How do your findings change what we know about this issue? What do you, uniquely, have to contribute to our understanding of this issue?
6) Consider your audience. Who should know about your research, and what's the best way to reach them? Should you write a paper, prepare an oral presentation, make a YouTube video, create an art installation, write an op-ed...?
7) Present your findings! Take what you have learned and present your findings in a public forum - e.g. in an art gallery or in a local newspaper or as a presentation to a city council meeting - in order to raise awareness about your issue. Agitate for change.
Suggested age range: 13+
When & where: Fridays from 1:30-2:30 at Voyagers in Chelmsford (directions), Feb. 3 to May 5, 2017. No class Feb. 24 or Apr. 21.
Fee: $175 for the semester. $10 discount for Voyagers members. Payment plans available. Fees waived for families with financial need. (Waivers and payment plan information.)
NOTE: This is a two-semester class. In the fall, we will design and implement our research projects. In the spring, we will analyze and present our findings. Students will get much more out of this class by enrolling in both semesters, but this is not required.
Photo credit: Calla Chaiyaruk