Much of my empirical research experience has been participatory action research (PAR), in which I have worked alongside the people impacted by a particular social or educational issue to collaboratively design a study, collect and interpret data, and report findings. This approach aligns with what Aleut elders have taught me about ethics and the co-construction of knowledge.
Amplifying Youth Voices Project, Lead Research Consultant (2005-2007)
Sponsored by the international human rights organization Global Rights Partners for Justice, this project brought together diverse young adult leaders from marginalized communities all over the world to explore educational injustices from both a global and local perspective. Along with my mentor, Michelle Fine, I worked with the young adult leaders to develop a focus group protocol and survey to be administered to thousands of youth across the globe. With Brett Stoudt I oversaw the quantitative data entry and analysis, and lead the qualitative data analysis process. My interest in mixed methods approaches has persisted through much of my empirical work. Further, themes of educational injustice run consistently across all of my research.
The Gateways and Get-aways Project, Principal Investigator (2006-2008)
In this comprehensive mixed methods study — my dissertation — I worked with a diverse team of youth school non-completers to design and conduct research on school rules and policies that pressure students to leave school before graduation to pursue a General Educational Development (GED) credential. We created the Collective of Researchers on Educational Disappointment and Desire (CREDD). Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys we talked with hundreds of diverse youth across New York City about factors that impacted their school completion. I have presented findings from this research alongside an extensive analysis of accountability policies in Urban Youth and School Push-out: Gateways, Get-aways, and the GED. Along with rich and compelling data, this study provided me with expertise in ethical research conduct, and the potential for research to meet the needs of diverse communities.
The Youth Researchers for a New Education System Study, Principal Investigator (2007-2008)
I completed this mixed methods PAR project with a diverse team of New York City public school students from all over the city. This project looked at the effects of mayoral control—the school governance approach initiated by Mayor Bloomberg in 2002, and that would “sunset,” or be reauthorized in 2009—and other accountability policies on students’ experiences of schooling. This study employed focus groups and a survey of hundreds of youth. The findings were detailed in a widely read electronic report, and were also featured in a 2009 exhibit at the Schomberg Center for Research on Black Culture, The New York Public Library.
Ethical Research in Marginalized Communities (2007-2009)
This conceptual-theoretical inquiry explored the history of research in Indigenous communities and urban communities in the United States and alternative narratives of complexity and desire as the basis for ethical research in marginalized communities in the 21st Century.
Migrant Youth Project, Principal Investigator (2010)
This empirical study seeks to understand the specific experiences of migrant young people — youth whose families work in orchards and vineyards in the Hudson Valley — in their public schools in small urban centers. I have conducted semi-structured focus groups with more than 25 youth and I hope to use the findings, in part, to develop a PAR study with migrant youth in the future.
Critical Place Inquiry (2009-Present)
This conceptual-theoretical inquiry seeks to articulate a framework of critical place inquiry, which involves positioning the economic, colonial, ecological, cultural, and relational components of places, boundaries, and borders as relevant to social science research.