Sunday, January 5, 2014

Participatory Action Research Activities

And how does PAR compare?

Suzi Quixley, a Human Services Consultant, outlines PAR as tool to assist organizations develop a “holistic, locally relevant approach to service provision”. According to “Participatory Action Research: An Outline of the Concept", the PAR process is cyclical and flexible beginning at any of the following four stages; Planning, Acting, Observing and Reflecting.

Quixley begins with the Planning Stage, where participants are asked to look forward to implementation of your plan and consider its implications.  Some of the questions asked include:  What are possible actions that could arise from our thinking? What would be the resource implication of pursuing your ideas?  What would it take to be able to implement the ultimately preferred action ideas?
  • knowledge of leadership
  • skills of leadership
  • attitude of leadership
  • Understand the research
  • Identify community problems
  • Choose topic and develop research question
  • Identify sources of information
  • Decide on research tools
  • Collect data, analyze data
  • Decide on recommendations
  • Take action and celebrate
Participants start by discussing the difference between recommendation and action, then brainstorm approaches to action. They are then divided into small groups and given an Action Strategy Identification Chart. Each group takes turns picking an action strategy and determines whether is it advocacy, activism or education.  To choose the groups action, participants share and explain their conclusions, then vote on the action they think would be most effective.  
International Participatory Action Research is project based asking participants to look at their local and global communities, their values and beliefs, and what they can do to create change.

In the Action stage, participants initiate their plans while looking forward to the Observation stage. To ensure deliberate and critically informed action, participants ask: Are we keeping the kind of documentation we will require to be able to document detailed outcomes accurately in the next stage?  Have you brought stakeholders in this questions with you?

While Quixley provides a general outline, Standford provides a much more comprehensive example of Participatory Action Research.

Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning or  YELL  was developed to identify and research community needs and strengths. YELL also asks youth and adults to look at leadership in context.  This curriculum encourages skill and knowledge building in three areas:
YELL Curriculum is divided into three units; Communication, Leadership, Research and Action. The final unit, Research and Action unit is broken down into 10 steps to:

“The Ideal Neighborhood” is a reflective activity to identify issues.  The objective is for youth to design an ideal neighborhood to consider issues in their own community.  Participants are asked to imagine what a perfect neighborhood would look like. They are then divided into groups to discuss the things, places, peoples and features of their ideal neighborhood. In debrief, questions are raised about the difference between these neighborhoods and the ones they actually live in. Students are asked to inquire about the causes of problems in ideal communities, what could transform a “good” neighborhood into a “bad” one and vice versa.  And in closing they are asked, “If you could make one aspect of your neighborhood more like your ideal one, what would you choose?  What would you do?”.

After identifying issues, initiating research and analyzing data, participants plan to take action.  The objective of  “Advocacy, Activism and Education: Round Robin”, is to consider different forms of action for sharing findings and think about forms of action that fit within the larger social action landscape.  

The common thread among these PAR documents are reflection, inquiry and action. Each PAR activity is designed for participants to evaluate their circumstances (personal, political, educational, etc), work with others and act on what they believe will serve them best.

Participatory Action Research curriculum, like Global Education, is project based. And like Global Education curriculum, PAR asks participants to look at themselves, and their communities in order to create positive change in their community.  

In summary, IPAR is an education process that:
values the whole person
seeks proficiency through demonstration of reflection, cooperation, social engagement and honesty
is project based
requires action

Global Education Activities

International Education and PAR value of the whole person and target educational indicators such as reflectioncooperation and social engagement.  

Oxfam’s "Guide to Education for Global Citizenship" develops knowledge, attitude and skills such as:  
asking questions
participating in society
acknowledges global issues

Through the use of photography, this curriculum asks participants to reflect on their values, beliefs and stereotypes.  In “Changing Situations” participants are asked to look carefully at a photograph and discuss what they believe is happening. They are then asked to use evidence from the photograph to think about what might have happened before the photograph was taken.  

Using a photograph of someone from another country, “Links and Commonalities”, asks participants to find all the commonalities and links between their lives and the life of a person in the picture. These activities suggest that photography plays an important part in forming our values toward other people, place and cultures. Photography and other media outlets are a great tool for inquiry and reflection. They help build respect for people, an ability to argue effectively, as well as empathy and equity. 

In “Get Global”, global education is defined as skill based.  This project based curriculum is a process of six steps that focus on how to:
build leadership through action
develop enquiry and participation
reflect and an understand the world as a global community

To begin, "Get Global" asks participants to choose an issue. In “Local to Global Power”,  participants are asked to discuss power, influence and understand who influences and has power over them. Using a Venn diagram, participants calculate the number of people who have power over them at local, national and global levels. Activities such as this give participants an idea of who stakeholder, allies, and challengers may be for their project.  

The Global Dimension In Action” asks teachers to create curriculum to explore:
what connects students to the rest of the world
what enables engagement with complex global issues
what builds links between lives, people, places and issues

Langdon School served low-income students that felt overwhelmed by the scale of global poverty. To build global citizenship, Staff and faculty planned a timetable of activity weeks where students would link learning about global issues and their role as active world citizens.  In 2005 students took part in “Send My Friend to School” and learned that 80 million children who miss out on schooling.  Learning about this issues inspired 60-70 students to start volunteering, and they chose to take part in Make Poverty History campaign.

Global Education curriculum are project based. Participants are asked to practice reflection and leadership. These curricula and others like them ask participants to assess their relationship to the world and work with others to address issues of importance.