National Writing Project

Revolutionizing Inquiry in Urban English Classrooms: Pursuing Voice and Justice through Youth Participatory Action Research

By: Danielle Filipiak, Antero Garcia, Nicole Mirra
Publication: English Journal
Date: 2015

Summary: In this article, three educators share their classroom experiences with encouraging students to develop authentic research practices through Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). YPAR can be used as a powerful tool to re-imagine conventional research methods in the English classroom, illuminating often-silenced perspectives.


Agency represents the power that derives from the pursuit of those questions that matter most to students. It is what fuels action, a central component of YPAR that allows young people to attend to and explore firsthand the nuances of issues that have a direct bearing on their lives. It is contextually bound, always in negotiation, and mediated by the histories, social interactions, and cultures that young people's identities are entangled within. We argue that agency cannot be framed as a competency then, but as a capacity to imagine and act upon the world. Central to this is the opening of spaces for students in their plurality, spaces where they can examine their relationships with each other, with texts, and with the world."

About the Authors

NICOLE MIRRA is a teacher-consultant with the West Texas Writing Project and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso.

DANIELLE FILIPAK is a PhD fellow and instructor in the English education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as a former high-school English teacher and teacher-consultant with the Wayne State Writing Project.

ANTERO GARCIA is an assistant professor at Stanford University, and is affiliated with the CSU Writing Project and the Bay Area Writing Project.

Copyright © 2015 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission.

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