Episode 3

Published on:

28th Mar 2024

Youth Participatory Action Research and Art (Part 2), with Drs. Kristen Goessling, Dana Wright, Amanda Wager, and Marit Dewhurst

In the exciting second part of our discussion on YPAR and arts-based methods, new grad student co-hosts Shikha and Cory continue their conversation with Dr Kristen Goessling, Dr Dana Wright, Dr Amanda Wager and Dr. Marit Dewhurst, researchers and editors of Engaging youth in critical arts pedagogies and creative research for social justice: Opportunities and challenges of arts-based work and research with young people that came out in 2021. First, in our lightning round, we continue learning about our guests as we ask them about their pet peeves in collaboration–which are quite funny and enlightening! [1:15]. We also talk about an outline of common stages or phases in a YPAR project [2:16]. Some highlights include a discussion on relationship building as a design process [6:40] and building group dynamics [9:20] through participatory arts-based methods, like mapping and collage. In their projects, we can really see “PAR as a verb” in terms of supporting adults who work with young people as “PAR-ing” [11:48]. 

Throughout, our guests emphasize the pedagogical dimensions of YPAR because YPAR insists on sharing and learning skills together and democratizing knowledge production. For example, Amanda draws on theatre-based activities like the  ”hot seat” to rehearse data collection methods like interviewing. YPAR challenges adultism with its “misconceptions about young people” and pushes adults to take youth seriously [15:25]. At its heart, “PAR is essentially doing two research projects at once: You are engaging in a process that you are studying because you are studying the praxis and so that you can hone it, refine it, and make it more effective; and you are studying the subject at hand” [18:48]. While navigating these layers, our YPAR guests explore navigating power dynamics [20:35] and participants shifting energies and motivations with and among youth [24:09].

Finally, [31:57] our guests offer advice to novice YPAR researchers on how to push the bar on meaningful participation in working with youth. They each share some encouragement and remind us that, ultimately, “anyone [who] has any designs on working with young people should be prepared that [young people] are the smartest people in the room and they will know if you are authentic or if you are trustworthy […] so it's best to bring your authentic self” [39:37].

Here is the citation for their book on YPAR and arts-based methods:  

Goessling, K. P., Wright, D. E., Wager, A. C., & Dewhurst, Marit. (2021). Engaging youth in critical arts pedagogies and creative research for social justice opportunities and challenges of arts-based work and research with young people. Routledge; WorldCat.org. http://public.eblib.com/choice/PublicFullRecord.aspx?p=6469802

Here are the YPAR handbooks mentioned in our conversation

Community Futures, Community Lore: Learn to use youth participatory action research (YPAR), community mapping, public data and cultural organizing to generate solutions for our collective future.

Berkeley YPAR hub: This hub features expansive curriculum and resources to  enrich YPAR projects.

Here are other publications by our guests:

Goessling, K. P., Wright, D., Wager, A. C., & Dewhurst, M. (2020). A critical mixtape for the movement: Reflecting on creative and critical youth practices in research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 33(1), 1-7.

Goessling, K. P., Wright, D. E., Wager, A. C., & Dewhurst, M. (2021). Introduction: A Playlist for a Praxis of Possibilities: Reflecting on Creative and Critical Research with Young People. In Engaging Youth in Critical Arts Pedagogies and Creative Research for Social Justice (pp. 3-18). New York, NY: Routledge.

Goessling, K. P. (2024). Learning from feminist participatory action research: A framework for responsive and generative research practices with young people. Action Research, 0(0). https://doi-org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1177/14767503241228502

Goessling, K. P. & Wager, A. C. (2021). Places of possibility: Youth research as creative liberatory praxis. Journal of Youth Studies, 24(6), 746-764, DOI: 10.1080/13676261.2020.1764920

Goessling (2020) Youth participatory action research, trauma, and the arts: designing youthspaces for equity and healing. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 33(1), 12-31, DOI: 10.1080/09518398.2019.1678783 

Goessling, K.P. Increasing the Depth of Field: Critical Race Theory and Photovoice as Counter Storytelling Praxis. Urban Review, 50, 648–674 (2018). https://doi-org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s11256-018-0460-2 

Wright, D. E. (2020). Imagining a more just world: Critical arts pedagogy and youth participatory action research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 33(1), 32-49.

Wright, D. E. (2015). Active learning: Social justice education and participatory action research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Other publications that might interest you:

Brasof, M., & Levitan, J. (Eds.). (2022). Student voice research: Theory, methods, and innovations from the field. Teachers College Press. https://www.tcpress.com/student-voice-research-9780807767122

Guest bios:

Dr. Dana E. Wright is a Professor of Education at Mills College at Northeastern University. Professor Wright's areas of research and scholarship examine critical youth participatory action research (Critical PAR), schooling in urban contexts, critical youth studies, organizational transformation, curriculum studies, youth organizing, critical arts pedagogies, and educational leadership, equity and policy.  She is the author of Active Learning: Social Justice Education and Participatory Action Research, which examines innovative curriculum and teaching approaches and discusses implications for curriculum and pedagogy, school transformation and educational policy.  Her recently published co-edited book is entitled, Engaging Youth in Critical Arts Pedagogies and Creative Research for Social Justice: Opportunities and Challenges of Arts-based Work and Research with Young People

Dr. Kristen Goessling is the Director of Participatory Research at the Penn State Center—Philadelphia. Kristen is an interdisciplinary engaged scholar whose work aligns to create spaces of belonging where people build meaningful relationships, construct knowledge, and take action toward social change. She uses participatory action research to investigate personal experiences of public policies with youth, students, and community members as co-researchers. Dr. Goessling’s scholarship spans the fields of critical participatory action research, organizing for education justice, social justice youth development, and community-university partnerships and coalitions.

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About the Podcast

The Action Research Podcast
Somehow, the first podcast dedicated solely to Action Research.
In the first podcast dedicated solely to Action Research, Adam and Joe do a deep dive into the lives, experiences, philosophies, and - of course - investigations of the most well respected action researchers in the field. Hear about their greatest successes and failures, and learn about what makes Action Research unique. If you are passionate about social change, engage in research, or are a budding scholar then this is the perfect podcast for you.

Intended mostly for those interested in research and social change, The Action Research Podcast aims to offer unique and valuable insights for the field through accessible and engaging conversations about the “what” “why” and “how” of Action Research.

The Action Research Team:
Adam Stieglitz, Co-host
Joe Levitan, Co-host
Shikha Diwakar, Production Manager
Vanessa Gold, Sound technician and voice-over specialist

About your host

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Adam Stieglitz & Joe Levitan

Adam is the Co-Founder and Director of the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development. He holds a PhD from the University of Louisville

Joe is the Co-founder and Director of the Pallata Community Education Center and an Associate Professor at McGill University