Participation Action Research; Uncovering the Ugly Truths

Critical analysis of “Participatory Action Research and City Youth: Methodological Insights from the Council of Youth Research”


The aim of this blog is to analyze and evaluate the article “Participatory Action Research and City Youth: Methodological Insights from the Council of Youth Research” (Bautista et al, 2013), as it relates to this week’s theme; communities of practice within action research and leadership. The article explores how inner city youth of color get involved in the process of action research within their community of practice. The authors define this type of research as youth participatory action research YPAR (Bautista et al, 2013). From the beginning, I started to immediately connect with the scope of the study. As a product of a failing inner city school, I found the research to be insightful and I identified with many of the problems unearthed by the study. The inquiry proved to be of great value to the youth that participated in it, as they were forced to examine their “community of practice”, which was various high schools in and outside of their areas. At first the concept of social injustices in schools seemed to be quite ordinary, however the study revealed a much deeper, uglier side to inequalities in inner city education. What I thought was unique about this was, again the youth themselves were uncovering this information by contrasting their high school environment with other schools.

The field notes taken by the researchers provided in depth data and also generated new information for community members to share experiential knowledge. This rich information will allow for the community members to act as agents of change on issues that impact them directly (p.4). As I became engrossed in the findings of the study, I began to reflect on the article; Unveiling the Promise of Community Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College Going Information Networks (Liou et al, 2009). This article touched on some of the same inner city school inequity issues that the Bautista article did. The concept I focused on in my analysis of both articles was impact. How in the Bautista article (2013), the impact was powerful. Powerful for the youth council researches as they saw the striking differences. At times it almost seemed unfair, like a slap in the face, or a punch to the gut. Inequality screamed out as the researcher describe their tour of Richside High School, with its planetarium, three cafeterias, and brand new science and technology building (p.10). Impact can also be seen and valued in the Liou article (Liou, 2009), as it examined the impact of socioeconomic factors leading to young people of color not having equal access to educational advancements. The impact of the lack of caring school adults such as counselors (p.549). According to the Liou article, studies show that students who have caring supportive adults involved in their lives perform better academically (Liou, 2009).

Both articles take an in-depth look at the inequalities of inner city schools and for the purposes of this blog they shall be considered communities of practice. The Bautista article however, struck a nostalgic and emotional chord with me. As the article described inner city schools with dirty bathrooms, bars on windows, and overcrowded classrooms. I reflected upon my high school environment, the stench of cigarettes and urine in the bathrooms, dirty cafeterias, and desks covered with gang affiliated graffiti. As an inner city youth I didn’t even realize there was anything wrong with my learning environment. I thought all high schools looked and smelled like that. And that is because I had never been to a nicer high school. In my opinion that is what makes this study so impactful. The youth in the YPAR got to experience these disparities first hand.

In conclusion, the examination of not only the Bautista article (2013) but the Liou (2009) article as well, provided me with a shocking and disturbing view at the impact of the inequalities of inner city schools. As shocking and impactful as the image of Arnold Schwartzeneggar hold a knife large enough to carve a buffalo with the caption “we’ve got to give every child in this state equal opportunities, equal education, equal learning materials, equal books, equal everything (p. 16).”


Bautista, M., Bertrand, M., Morrell, E., Scorza, D. & Matthews, C. (2013). Participatory Action   Research and City Youth: Methodological Insights From the Council of Youth Research.   Teachers College Record, 115(100303), 1­23.

Liou, D., Antrop­González, R. & Cooper, R. (2009). Unveiling the Promise of Community   Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College­Going Information Networks.   Educational Studies, (45), 534­555.

The following two tabs change content below.


1 comment — post a comment

Anika Hutchinson


I love your writing style! I, too, agree with the theme of the articles being “impact”. As a person of color, I had a similar educational experience as yours, except I was in a nearly all-White high school, with all the amenities you could think of, however, I was still at a disadvantage because the educational support was not available to me. I didn’t know about Advanced Placement (AP) courses, scholarships, SAT’s or ACT’s-heck, I didn’t meet my guidance counselor until my senior year when to ensure me that I would graduate on time. This is the “high stakes” information, as referred to in the Liou, et al article. However, I was completely unaware of the opportunities I was missing. It goes back to the saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Inequality can be seen in both the inner-city schools, as well as the suburban schools–you just have to know what those inequalities are. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *