YPAR (Youth-led Participatory Action Research) is a student lead adult guided approach to positive youth and community development based in social justice principles in which young people conduct systematic research to improve their lives, their communities, and the schools intended to serve them. It is a way to engage students to address a concern identified in their community. Action research is a grounded research method that has been modified and applied to a student lead approach. The processes follows a research design model that allows students and adults to Identify a problem, gather qualitative data, qualitative data, complete literature review based on the problem. Data is interpreted and action is take through implementation of the best practices identified in the interpretation of the data and literature. Results are then evaluated and next steps are identified to revise learnings and identify a new problem or to continue exploring the existing problem based on key findings and learnings.  

Youth Participatory Action Research can take varies forms the diagram below is a general process that student might work through as a class to identify a problem and make a change.

GED 578 - Alternative Learning Environments / action_research_s08

                                  Ferrance (2000)

These steps include the following:

    • Identify the problem
      • Students should identify a problem that is real, meaningful, and attainable.
      • The problem should be identified in partnership with the school and community,
      • The problem should be broadly related to health education and ideally aligned with the standards.
    •  Gather Data
      • Interviews, photo voice, diaries, field notes, case examples, focus groups, checklists, student behavioral data (Healthy Kids Colorado), school level data, climate and culture data.
      • Gather data through a literature review related to the focus area.
      • Identify varied data for triangulation (multiple sources of data).
    • Interpretation of data
      • Analyze and identify major themes
      • Complete a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data
    • Action based on Evidence
      • Use the data collected and complemented by current research and best practices to develop and action plan
      • Identify other data to collect to determine impact of actions taken
    • Reflection
      • Evaluate the results
      • Based on data that you have collected was the intervention successful, or did  you meet your goals of the project?
      • If unsuccessful, what could be done in subsequent attempts to elicit favorable results?

Other Youth Participatory Action Research Processes:

This site provide a framework and resources from Berkeley YPAR. They have created a series of lessons that can be used to teach the process of for Youth Participatory Action Research. 

Examples of how a the LA Local Health Agency has used YAPR in their school/community partnership. 
Examples from the Harvard Democratic Knowledge Project. Examples are for civics education, Other Project Based Learning Examples are provided.

Examples from a district perspective (Jeffco Student Health Advisory Council), vaping, drug prevention, access to water. 

Ferrance, Eileen (2000). Themes in Education: Action Research. LAB: Northeast and Islands Regional Educational, Retrieved November 2020, from

Last modified: Thursday, 22 April 2021, 1:17 PM