Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) engages traditionally marginalized youth populations in researching issues that affect themselves and their communities. Each step requires a collective effort shared by adults and youth, and is generally comprised of these steps: identifying a relevant problem, researching it, creating a plan to address it, implementing the plan, evaluating its impact, and returning to the process again as new questions about the topic emerge organically from participants. McIntyre (2000), who is recognized as the first researcher to document YPAR in education, identifies three principles that guide most PAR projects including: (1) the collective investigation of a problem; (2) the reliance on indigenous knowledge to better understand that problem; and (3) the desire to take individual action and/or collective action to deal with the stated problem (p. 128). This cycle as enacted in educational spaces reflects a significant effort in educational research to position youth as knowledge producers who are well-equipped and qualified to inform decisions made about the educational contexts they navigate daily.
This entry begins with a brief overview of the British traditions of action research, which YPAR borrows its name from. Following this is a description of PAR as a revolutionary pedagogical undertaking (Fals-Borda and Rahman, 1991; Freire, 2000 ) as situated within critical social movements that aimed to improve both the social and material conditions of communities and society writ large. The most influential of this work grew out of Latin American social movements and in particular the work taken up by educator Paulo Freire whose pedagogical approach is outlined in brief. Finally, this article ends by attending to YPAR’s methodological and epistemological orientation, and reviews important trends and insights gleaned from literature that captures YPAR projects in schools.