Abstract: Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a social justice-focused approach for promoting social change and positive youth development in which youth conduct systematic research and actions to improve their schools and communities. Although YPAR is oriented to generating research for action, with evidence-based recommendations often aimed at influencing adults with power over settings and systems that shape youths’ lives, we have little understanding of how YPAR evidence influences the thinking and/or actions of adult policymakers or practitioners. In general, the participatory research field lacks a theoretically informed “use of research evidence” lens, while the use of evidence field lacks consideration of the special case and implications of participatory research. To start to address these gaps, this paper presents a conceptual linkage across these two fields and then provides six illustrative case examples across diverse geographic, policy, and programmatic contexts to demonstrate opportunities and challenges in the use of YPAR evidence for policy and practice. Our illustrative focus here is on U.S. K-12 educational contexts, the most-studied setting in the YPAR literature, but questions examined here are relevant to YPAR and other systems domestically and internationally, including health, educational, and legal systems. Highlights: The use of research evidence (URE) field identifies characteristics of research and conditions that strengthen URE. Youth-led Participatory Action Research is a special case for factors that influence research use. Six case examples across diverse K-12 contexts illustrate facilitators and barriers for YPAR use. We propose next steps for community psychology research and action to promote the study and use of YPAR evidence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Applied Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health