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A Critical Action Research Reader


Edited By Patricia H. Hinchey

Since its inception, action research has been the subject of confusion and controversy. Can something be research if it doesn’t «prove» anything? Can something be action research if it’s a project run by an expert who does not consider participants co-researchers? Questions multiply when the general term is limited to critical action research. What makes critical action research different from action research generally?
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 This highly diverse collection of previously unpublished and published works offers a sampling of opinions on key theoretical and methodological questions, complemented by a wide range of critical action research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.
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Introduction: Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)


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Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

Part 3 explores participatory action research (PAR)—the strand of critical action research that assigns 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 questions, 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 substantive change.

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