Center for Urban Education

Critical Consciousness Program

Critical consciousness refers to people's capacity to critically analyze their social conditions and act to change them. Based on current theory, criticial consciousness has several component parts, including critical social analysis and critical action. Research has found higher levels of critical consciousness in marginalized young people to be associated with better career, education, and health-related outcomes. The Center for Urban Education is actively involved in research and practice intended to better understand how critical consciousness develops in young people, how it can be measured, and how interventions, particularly youth participatory action research (YPAR)--can be enhanced by emphasizing crticial consciousness development. Several Center projects are coordinated through the Critical Consciousness Program, noted below.

Project Description Staff
Critical Consciousness Development in Teacher Education This research study concerns the development of critical consciousness amoung undergraduate students preparing to become classroom teachers. It explores whether students enrolled in an introductory social foundations of education course experience an increase in critical consciousness from the beginning to the end of the semester. This study improves our understanding of critical consciousness among undergraduate teacher candidates. Adam Voight (PI); Anne Galletta; Katherine Clonan-Roy; Glenda Cotner
Critical Social Analysis among Marginalized Youth This research study, funded by the Spencer Foundation, investigates critical social analysis—careful thinking about the root causes of societal issues—among a sample of high school students in Greater Cleveland. Critical social analysis has positive educational and developmental implications for marginalized youth and is a necessary precondition for civic and political action. Phase one of the project measures critical social analysis and political ideology using a self-report survey to test for differences in the former between self-identified liberals and conservatives. The qualitative phase two involves in-depth, one-on-one interviews with youth to explore the process of analyzing societal issues and influences on that process. This study advances our understanding of marginalized youths’ critical social analysis and inform educational interventions.  Adam Voight (PI); Matthew Diemer (University of Michigan, Co-PI); Tamara Coats; Elizabeth Klancher; Steven Sanders; Regina Giraldo-García
Strengthening the Use of Research Evidence from Youth Participatory Action Research This research study, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, seeks to understand how adult decision-makers in schools and districts use the results of youth participatory action research (YPAR). The study is being conducted in seven school districts in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Ohio. The study employs a mixed-methods multiple-case study design to follow existing YPAR intitatives in each site to understand what contextual factors and characteristics of adults, youth, and the research itself influence the ways in which YPAR evidence is used. This study illustrates how and under what conditions YPAR evidence is used to inform K-12 policy and practice.  Emily Ozer (University of California, Berkeley, PI); Adam Voight (Co-PI); Ben Kirshner (University of Colorado, Co-PI)
Youth Participatory Action Research in the High School Curriculum This research study retrospectively examines the outcomes of a school-based youth participatory action research (YPAR) program in several high schools in Hemet, California. YPAR engages groups of young people in a process of identifying a problem in their schools or communities that they wish to ameliorate, collecting data to better understand the problem, analyzing the data, and using the results as the basis for action. This study demonstrates the effect of YPAR on participating students' academic achievement, attendance, and discipline infractions. The results of the study can be found in an article published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. Adam Voight (PI); Valerie Velez (Hemet Unified School District)

Notes: PI = Principal Investigator; Co-PI = Co-Principal Investigator; Co-I = Co-Investigator; PD = Project Director