Guiding School-Based Service-Learning With Youth Participatory Action Research: Latino Youth Identity Development and Empowerment

Guiding School-Based Service-Learning With Youth Participatory Action Research: Latino Youth Identity Development and Empowerment

Melissa Cochrane Bocci (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2900-2.ch008
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Abstract

Youth Participatory Action Research offers service-learning practitioners a critical framework for guiding their projects, particularly those engaging diverse or marginalized communities. A YPAR-guided service-learning project is youth-led, centers and affirms youth identities, examines problems and takes actions on structural and personal levels, and bases those actions on original, youth-conducted research. As such, YPAR-guided service-learning explicitly promotes youth empowerment and positive identity development, which can result in increased academic engagement and motivation, making such projects a strong option for attending to the opportunity gaps marginalized students often face in their school systems.
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Background

Both YPAR and service-learning literature indicate that the practices, particularly when guided by critical theoretical frameworks, have the potential to empower students. Kohfeldt, Chhun, Grace, and Langhout (2011) define empowerment as “a relational, non-linear process that expands people’s control over access to the resources that affect them” (p. 28) and the will and ability to take transformative action in and for one’s community. They assert that empowerment is essential for systemic change and that youth in particular are usually denied empowerment all together or have it mediated for them by adults. They describe three keys to developing authentic empowerment in school settings: “non-tokenized youth participation in decision making, a focus on facilitating critical consciousness through unearthing root causes of social problems, and socially just social action informed by critical reflection” (p. 29). Langhout, Collins, and Ellison (2013) further describe how empowerment can be fostered, stating that because power is inherently relational, empowerment can only happen through relationships. They describe five factors of this relational empowerment: “collaborative competence, bridging social divisions, facilitating others’ empowerment, mobilizing networks, and passing on a legacy” (n.d.).

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