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Our Research



Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Hearing Youth Voices was born from a youth-led Participatory Action Research (PAR) project conducted during the summer of 2012. The original team, pictured here, designed the project and investigated youth experience in school, primarily by conducting interviews with other young people.

The project catalyst was the release of the State Department of Education’s Bureau of Accountability and Improvement’s audit into the “Governance and Management” of the New London Public Schools. In this audit, the lead researchers interviewed “school officials, Members of the Board of Education, the Mayor, members of the City Council, school principals, leaders of employee unions, community social service organizations, business leaders, higher education representatives, members of the community, teachers, and parents.”

Students’ voice was entirely missing from the process, and from the report!!

Why PAR?

“Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection.”

  • Research has traditionally been done “on” people of color, poor people, youth, and other communities targeted by systems of oppression. PAR challenges this history, by creating research for and by these communities.
  • PAR projects are conducted within the context of social movements and social justice work. The goal is action- not to create research that sits on bookshelves.
  • Research has traditionally prioritized the “expertise” of people who have studied a problem, but haven’t necessarily lived the problem. We believe that people with lived experience of a problem have a particular, and important, form of expertise that all-too-often gets ignored.

In June 2012, Hearing Youth Voices leaders Laura Burfoot and Ranita Ray attended an intensive, week-long training, the Critical PAR Institute, at the CUNY Grad Center in New York. This training provided the springboard for the original summer project. 

Learn More about the Critical PAR Institute

Original research reports created by Hearing Youth Voices

Research Findings, 6-week Participatory Action Research
(Summer 2012)

Participatory Action Research Intro
(Presented August 2012)

2013 Research Findings
(Presented August 2013)

Summer 2014 Presentation