Post-millennials, who never have operated in a world without the internet, are pros at using an array of social media platforms. Less recognized is that many are adept with various online options that promote collaboration. It is second nature for many Gen Zers to use Google Docs, Slack, Zoom, etc.
One skill-set boosted by these digital tools is Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). It is no longer rare to see sophisticated data collection, analysis, and recommendations generated by this youth-led process. One driver of this trend is young people – especially minors –who know this advocacy strategy improves the odds that they will be taken seriously by the powers-that-be.
Organizations, coalitions, and think tanks could benefit enormously by incorporating a YPAR strategy. Here are just a few reasons and the first one is the most valuable.
10 Reasons for YPAR
- To produce data that reveal potentially more honest responses from the most diverse generation ever;
- To augment the expertise of professional researchers;
- To rethink typical survey questions and refine the language;
- To deepen the qualitative and quantitative research skills of everyone involved;
- To use innovative dissemination strategies to reach target constituencies;
- To gather pertinent data to evaluate the effectiveness of programs, reassess priorities, and develop new initiatives;
- To use data to strengthen the overall work and impact of your organization;
- To garner attention from the news media and policymakers;
- To save money since most employees and many consultants cost more than part-time young researchers; and
- To infuse young people – often the primary stakeholders – into the heart of your organization for the benefit of everyone!
Formidable Skills Produce Pertinent Data
A first class example is Race to Learn by the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) based on 10,725 responses from 114 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. It was released during debate on state legislation to curb what is taught about race and ethnicity in the classrooms.
Two excerpts reveal the integrity of their methodology, including an intentional strategy to include the most underrepresented students.
Interspersed with the presentation of data are quotes by students that reflect a wide range of views but reinforce one finding that “46% of students report that their school needs to do more to confront racism.” Each of the recommendations drawn from the analysis deserves to be read in full (see page 13).
There’s no doubt that the careful creation and wording of questions plus the dissemination through both formal and informal networks were what resulted in over 10K responses during only a two-week time frame.
Model and Motive
The Kentucky Student Voice Team outlines its overarching goal on the first page of the report:
This research is a labor intensive undertaking, but young people like these Kentucky citizen researchers prove that the effort is worth it.
As you read about this impressive work, please share with us how your organization might infuse young people as interpreters of the grievances facing their generation and pragmatic solutions.
- Courier Journal – media coverage of the research findings
- Innovative Intergenerational Research Model – Coping with Covid survey by KY Student Voice Team with teachers and parents
- Kentucky Student Voice Team – website
- Race to Learn – 20-page report
- The Co-Creation Generation – history of the KY Student Voice Team plus excellent intergenerational collaboration strategies
- YPAR Hub – school curriculum
For more information about the impact of intergenerational interdependence, contact us.