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CSU Hands-on Youth Action Research Nets $2.7M

Program aims to mitigate student underachievement and disengagement

CLEVELAND (December 16, 2021) – Cleveland State University was selected to receive $2.7 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program for School-Based Youth Participatory Action Research (SchYPAR).

The evidence-based, field-initiated program aims to improve academic, social and civic competencies for “high-need” students — those living in poverty, underrepresented minorities, English learners, students with disabilities, homeless students — as well as others marginalized by other structural factors. The grant funds a five-year timeline starting in fall 2022, including the creation of online school-based YPAR resources and training for students and teachers, as well as ongoing support and coaching.

CSU’s Center for Urban Education will lead the project in partnership with the American Institutes for Research, the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

“The program will engage students, teachers and other school stakeholders in dialogues to understand students’ social, emotional, physical and mental health, as well as academic needs in light of historical educational inequities and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Adam M. Voight, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Center for Urban Education in the College of Education and Human Services at CSU.

“Our hope, based on past evidence, is that this student-led research will be engaging for the participating students and that will also lead to improvements for schools as a whole in terms of positive relationships, equitable and inclusive learning environments, and climates of success and wellness.”

The program also aims to improve and increase teacher efficacy in facilitating SchYPAR and implementing its research and action components; teachers’ expectations for students; students’ academic, social and civic skills and behaviors; and the educational climate and environment.

Over the past several years, CSU’s Center for Urban Education and the Educational Service Centers of Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties partnered with hundreds of high school students and dozens of teachers across more than 30 schools to engage young people in culturally relevant action research.

“We look forward to the opportunity this grant affords to expand that work, including bringing it into schools and systematically researching it, in order to promote positive outcomes for students and their school communities,” Dr. Voight added. “What we learn will hopefully serve as a resource for other educators around the country.”