Publication Date


Document Type



As an emerging research epistemology, youth participatory action research (YPAR) presents youth with opportunities for empowerment and agency, and social sciences researchers with knowledge and insight from local experts. Early YPAR projects have led to improvements in schools and communities, with local youth initiating these changes. YPAR can be a powerful platform for youth agency, but it does come with challenges. This presentation is a self study reflecting the struggles that I, as a researcher-educator, faced when engaging local students who were considered “high risk” in a YPAR project. This research bridges the gap between scholars who research education from the peripheral, the teachers who are in the thick of it, and students. This study revealed the similarities in my struggles with conducting a YPAR study as a researcher and my day to day teaching as an educator. Ten students initially volunteered to participate in the YPAR study. We met once a week and corresponded through digital platforms. The goal was to develop support systems for high risk, English as a New Language (ENL) students. Throughout the project, I kept a research journal, which became the foundation for this self study. Analysis of this journal revealed seven barriers I faced as a researcher-educator: (a) uncertainty, (b) connection, (c) pressure, (d) guilt, (e) powerlessness, (f) disconnection, and (g) belonging. The barriers I faced as a researcher-educator reflected the same struggles that students faced in their own education. As the division between researchers, teachers, and students grows, we can acknowledge these parallel struggles and lean on them to connect, find common ground, and support each other in overcoming them in both contexts.



Download Full Text (774 KB)

Parallel Barriers: A Self Study in the Struggles in Implementing a YPAR Project with High-Risk High School Students