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Connecting Self, School, and Community in the Girls' Action Teams: An Arts-Based Youth Participatory Action Research Project

By: , , & Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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This case documents a participatory arts-based research project that took place over the 2012–2013 school year at a US Midwestern, urban middle school. In this account, we, the adult research partners, describe the participatory research process from our partnership formation to project evaluation. The primary methodology employed was Videovoice, a participatory data generation tool through which collaborators create videos to address social problems. The project explored three research questions: (1) What social problems do middle-school girls identify as important, challenging, and in need of change? (2) What actions do the girls describe as necessary to improving these social problems? (3) What are the perceived impacts of participatory, collaborative research with the girls? Following a visual needs assessment, the youth identified four key social issues: bullying, racism, gun violence, and child abuse. Suggestions for creating change within their communities varied by project, but largely focused on promoting respect for the community, effective communication, education, and awareness. Positive outcomes of the project included the following: developing leadership and decision-making skills; promoting voice and autonomy; facilitating positive relationships with collaborators; and creating space for artistic expression. In addition, we discuss challenges with engaging youth in participatory arts-based methodologies.

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