Center for Educational Transformation

Student Voice for School Change

Gale Seiler

Gale Seiler

Julio Cammarota

Julio Cammarota

RESEARCHERS:

DISTRICT PARTNER(S): Ames

PROJECT DURATION: 2016-17

ABSTRACT: Mirroring national and statewide trends, students of color in the Ames Community School District experience disparities in achievement and overrepresentation in disciplinary actions. In an effort to understand and change these differential outcomes, a pilot study will be undertaken in which Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) will be employed with a cohort of middle school students in Ames.

YPAR is a process of inquiry that privileges student voice and creates opportunities for young people to study their own social contexts and learn how to improve conditions and create greater equity within them. With guidance from university researchers, youth will become investigators and conduct research using standard social science research techniques, and then draw upon creative expressive forms such as spoken word, poetry, visual arts, music, and theater to present their findings.

This research will investigate the impact that student voice can have on school policy and practices, particularly as it relates to the educational experiences of students of color, as well as its impact on the students themselves, as evidenced in their engagement and success in school. Despite the precarious position of students of color in our educational system, rarely do we draw on their voices, knowledge, and experiences to address the issues that affect them. This research will attempt to counter that and to extend the use of a YPAR framework to middle school students in a predominantly White school.

 

This project is the focus of this October 30, 2017 article from the Iowa State University News Service, "Sparking conversations and awareness to bring about change."