Can the action research project of a classroom teacher intended to raise standardized test scores properly be considered critical? Is there a role for advocacy in any enterprise calling itself research? If critical action research is distinct from traditional empirical research, then what formats make sense for sharing results? This highly diverse collection of previously unpublished and published works offers a sampling of opinions on key theoretical and methodological questions, complemented by a wide range of critical action research reports illustrating what various theories look like in practice. The book provides a sketch of the topography of critical action research terrain and illuminates some diverse paths through it.
Part Three: Participatory Action Research (PAR)
Participatory Action Research (PAR) PART THREE Introduction Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Part 3 explores participatory action research (PAR)—the strand of critical action research that as-signs participants the role of respected co-researchers. When co-researchers are drawn from youth populations, the work is typically referred to as youth participatory action research (YPAR). Often, though not always,1 participants are drawn from marginalized populations. The researcher leading a project typically contributes expertise on the action research process and serves as facilitator. Participant co-researchers contribute expertise from their life experiences—essential for identifying critical ques- tions, gathering and interpreting data, and devising strategies for change. One notable characteristic of this strand of critical action research is that it requires tolerance for a high level of uncertainty as a project unfolds under the direction of its many participants. Another is that among all forms of action research, PAR perhaps yields the most innovative strategies for sharing findings and pursuing substan- tive change. The first chapter following this overview is by Caitlin Cahill, whose work is well known in the PAR/ YPAR field. This rich piece serves as a useful introduction to the field for two reasons. First, Cahill de- tails principles of participatory action research,2 which include not only a social justice orientation but also an insistence that participant co-researchers have real voice in the research—requiring close moni- toring of power sharing as work progresses. Researchers must be willing to share substantive control. Second, in detailing...
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