Youth Participatory Action Research and Possibilities for Students of Color in Educational Leadership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Students of Color hold intimate knowledge about institutional racism and White supremacy in schools—expertise that could be leveraged in school leadership. One approach that could mediate efforts to include Students of Color in leadership is youth participatory action research (YPAR), in which students and adult partners research school and community issues and take action. Guided by cultural historical activity theory, this article explores how YPAR may be a path to realizing the vision of including Students of Color in school decision making by sharing findings from a study of an after-school YPAR program for seventh and eighth graders. Research Methods/Approach: A range of data was collected, including videos of YPAR meetings and presentations and interviews with YPAR youth and school adults. Ethnographic and inductive approaches were used to analyze the data. Findings: Analysis of the data indicated that students within the YPAR program (re)positioned themselves as leaders through their production and presentation of intersectional, social justice research. School adults, however, positioned the students in contradictory ways. They verbalized support for student input without also positioning students as leaders while, in some cases, dismissing the students’ research and viewpoints. Implications: This article adds to the educational leadership field by indicating that YPAR and similar programs can act as mediators to increase the potential for Students of Color to expand their leadership at schools by shining light on existing leadership and opening up possibilities for students to further reposition themselves as leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-395
Number of pages30
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Students of Color
  • educational leadership
  • racism
  • student leadership
  • youth participatory action research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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