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Purpose: Engaging youth as collaborative research partners in professional education research and evaluation requires careful attention to the complex power dynamics that emerge in the context of adult and youth partnerships (Teixeira, Augsberger, Richards-Schuster & Martinez, 2021). Recognizing youth as capable of investigating issues relevant to their lives and producing usable knowledge (Caraballo, Lozenski, Lyiscott & Morell, 2017; Tilley & Taylor, 2018) requires researchers to consider how and in what ways adult and youth enactment of participatory research methods could reify dominant approaches to educational research that limit youth voice and authority. This poster describes our exploration of this collaborative co-research process with youth co-researchers from three research studies aimed at centering and amplifying youth co-researcher perspectives and expertise within the context of two science museums and aims to contribute to our understanding of methods that support youth involvement in the research process.
Framework: We drew from Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth framework to make sense of the vital perspectives and knowledges that youth brought to their research experiences that are often sidelined or ignored in more traditional research methods. A community culture wealth framework enabled us to identify the ways that the collaborative research process did and did not elicit and leverage the aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, and resistant capital youth brought to the research process (Habig, Gupta, and Adams, 2021; Yosso, 2005), and the supports and barriers adults enacted in response to collaborating with youth co-researchers.
Methods and Data Sources: We conducted a cross-case analysis of three individual research teams, including a subset of each team’s members (two-to-three adults and one-to-two youth). Each team implemented a research or evaluation study within the context of a science museum youth or visitor program. Our qualitative dataset consisted of interviews with youth and written reflections by both adults and youth aimed at exploring the similarities and differences between how adults and youth conceptualized and felt successful in their roles, felt prepared and supported to engage in the collaborative co-research process, their perceptions of the impact of their efforts on their identities as experienced or novice researchers, and the importance of engaging youth as partners in research that concerns youth’s lives. In our analysis, we identified patterns in the way that adults and youth worked together that illuminated the benefits and challenges associated when co-researching with youth.
Results: In this poster, we share benefits such as the development of more robust data collection instruments, and examples of where youth standpoints shaped analysis. We also share challenges and recommendations related to the needed on-going commitment to partnership, designing research inquiries that actually center youth experience, and creating clear expectations, tasks and accountabilities that support youth in knowing they are contributing to the shape of the study.
Significance: This poster describes a set of methods that can be adopted by informal education researchers who are interested in working with youth and a series of recommendations for both researchers and youth interested in the collaborative process of co-researching.
Rachel Chaffee, American Museum of Natural History
Preeti Gupta, American Museum of Natural History
Sarah May, Museum of Science, Boston
Katie Todd, Museum of Science, Boston
Jennifer Dawn Adams, University of Calgary
Anna MacPherson, American Museum of Natural History