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CRITICAL
RESEARCH
HANDBOOK

UCLA/IDEA

CRITICAL
RESEARCH

ver the past ve years, UCLAs Institute


for Democracy, Education, and Access
(IDEA) has worked with educators
to engage urban youth in studying equity and
access in schools across greater Los Angeles. We
call this process critical research. It is critical
because it highlights inequality, empowers young
people of color, and aims to enact more just and
democratic policies. It is also rigorous research
in which young people draw on the tools of social
science investigation and social theory to document and make sense of the conditions in their
schools.
The critical research process offers a powerful
model for learning and activism. It provides
urban youth with the knowledge and skills they
need to conduct and report on conditions in their
schools. But that is just the beginning. Students
build on their information and research skills to
participate in school improvement along with
broader movements for educational and social
justice.
The following is an overview of our critical
research. It is really more of a how-to-thinkabout-it handbook than a how-to-do-it handbook. By its very nature, critical research is
bound by the contexts, resources, and histories
of its participants. However, there is much that
various critical research projects have in common
even if their stories are very different, and we
have attempted to extract a few central components that apply across different settings.

This handbook is a companion piece to the video,


IDEA Summer Seminar 2002, which follows
30 urban high school students through the critical research process. The video chronicles the
students efforts to test what is, on the surface,
a perfectly unassailable and democratic propositionthat students and parents monitor the
conditions for learning at their schools and ask a
series of questionsquestions that are, in sum,
critical: What are the conditions at this school?
How did they get this way? Who is responsible?
Do people have rights to different conditions?
What groups benet or suffer from these conditions? What can be done to change the conditions? and so forth. The video shows what this
critical research looks like and how it affects participating students.

Teachers and students interested in seeing critical research from additional perspectives will
want to look to IDEAs online journal, www.
TeachingToChangeLA.org. Here you can
find examples of critical research projects at
every grade level, including student-generated
surveys, observation forms, and other critical
research tools. We encourage you to contribute your own critical research projects to www.
TeachingToChangeLA.org. For more information, please contact tcla.gseis.ucla.edu.
John Rogers,
Associate Director, UCLA/IDEA

Introduction:

Students Critical
Research and the Role
of the Critical Teacher
Critical research teaches students to notice and
understand how power and inequality shape conditions that affect their communities. It also helps
them identify or construct strategies that can challenge the status quo. There can be no escaping
that teaching critical research requires critical
teachingteachers with the knowledge and dispositions to ask questions such as, How do
apparently fair social practices belie deep inequities? Who benets from particular social and
economic policies? How do traditional practices in economic, educational, legal and other social
institutions stand in the way of social justice?
Rather than instructing students to study a set
of procedures gleaned from others experiences,
the teacher of critical research guides students
through their own sense-making and discoveries. The critical teacher encourages students to
identify problems that matter to them. Students
acquire a toolbox of research techniques, and they
practice matching appropriate tools to the questions at hand. Teachers help students reect on
their research process to address one of the main
problems that confronts all serious researchers of
social issues: how to keep focused while remaining exible as they venture into the real world of
their data.
Rigorous data collection is of little value if it
never sees the light of day. Critical research is
not only about the personal enrichment that comes
with learning certain facts and skills, but with
contributing to ones community of neighbors
and scholars. The teacher helps students explore
questions such as, Who will nd our data useful? Who should be exposed to this data?
What will be the obstacles to having our data
nd an appropriate forum? and so on.

The teacher can help students match their reporting media (formal reports, videos, Power Point
presentations, graphs) to their audiences, and
help students shape their presentations to such
audiences. Importantly, not all good teaching is
critical teaching, but all critical teaching must
be good teaching. The standard for student-centered, inquiry based, and caring teaching is simply
higher for critical teaching. Without this in mind,
critical teaching risks becoming as doctrinaire and
oppressive as uncritical teaching.
I. Identifying the Problem and Research
Question
Critical research is reexive; that is, it brings
personal experiences together with broader issues
outside ones own sphere. For example, a critical study may begin with an everyday experience that seems to have little connection outside
ones immediate surroundingsthe conditions
in ones neighborhood, disrespect for ones preferred music, lack of a textbook for a math class,
for example. But soon students discover that their
local concerns are at least partly the effects and
expressions of national policies and prejudices,
state laws, and macroeconomics.
A critical study also can respond to lawsuits,
policy initiatives, or organizing campaigns that
emerge far from the students home community.
Critical questions can reveal the immediacy that
these seemingly remote actions have with students daily lives. The benchmark for a good
critical topic is whether the researcher/student
feels that the topic matters to them. They must
also have a passion for nding the truth, the complete picture, and the hidden assumptions about
the topic.

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In Summer 2002, one student research group examined the social and physical conditions in
urban schools. They began their work by generating the following questions:

PHYSICAL ECOLOGY

SOCIAL ECOLOGY

Buildings

School climate

How does the state of a classroom (floors,


infestation, inadequate desks) affect the physical
ecology of the school?

What do student to student relationships say about the social ecology?

What role does the presentation of the buildings


(wires, gated areas, windows, dilapidated structures) play in the physical ecology?

What do student to administrator relationships say about the social ecology?

How does the quality of the bathrooms affect the


physical ecology of the school?

What do student to teacher relationships say about the social ecology?

What do student to security relationships say about the social ecology?


How do the available enrichment opportunities affect the social ecology?
How do school clubs, clicks, and sports affect the school ecology?
How do the available after school programs affect the social ecology?

Positioning of school in
community
What role does the physical positioning of the
school in the community play in the physical
ecology of the school?

Positioning of school in community


How does the parent relationship with the school administrators play
a role in the social ecology?

All critical learning is shaped by the prior experiences and knowledge of the participantsincluding the teacher. Research begins with free-ranging conversations to access that knowledgeasking, what concerns us, what do we know, why are
we angry, what are our experiences, what are our
theories, what is our evidence, and so on. But
these conversations, by themselves, can soon dry
up into complaints, negativity, and a sense of
hopelessness. Its the teachers job to make the
talk generative; that is, to use curiosity, concern, and outrage as a springboard to scholarship,
and scholarship as a lever for social change.

Jeannie Oakes, and Martin Liptons Teaching to Change the


World chapter 1, pp. 3-33.

A powerful assist for generating new knowledge,


actions, and hope can be gained from readings
by theorists who also take a critical view. These
works reveal broad patterns in the social reproduction of inequality and allow students to see
inequality as political and systemic instead of
random events that inexplicably happen to some
people and not to others. These readings explore
how educational inequalities relate to the unequal
distribution of wealth and power in society generally.

Readings such as these provide students and


teacher alike with the historical foundation and
analytic tools to make sense of their experiences in schools by seeing them as part of broader
systemic phenomena. The readings might appear
daunting at first look. They are not, certainly,
written for younger people. However, our projects
with students convince us that students are drawn to
the arguments and are amenable to the scaffolding
that the teacher provides.

Some Readings on Social Reproduction for


High School Students:
Paulo Freires First letter: Reading the word/reading the
world, in Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who
dare to teach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 17-26, 1997

Patrick Finns Literacy With an Attitude: Educating Working


Class Children in their Own Self Interest New York: SUNY
Press, 1999.
Pedro Noguera and Antwi Akoms Disparities Demystified,
The Nation June 5, 2000, pp. 29-31.

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Scaffolding Critical Readings
We have used this chart as a teaching tool for making sense of Jean Anyons analysis of how schools
provide different understandings of knowledge to students from different class backgrounds.
Working-Class Schools

Middle-Class Schools

Afuent Professional
Schools

What Students
Say About
Knowledge?

To know stuff?
Doing pages in our books and
things.
Worksheets.
You answer questions.
To remember things?

To remember.
You learn facts and history.
Its smartness.
Knowledge is something you
learn.

You think up ideas and then find


things wrong with those ideas.
Its when you know something
really well.
A way of learning, of finding out
things.
Figuring out stuff.

Where does
knowledge
come from?

Teachers.
Books.
The Board of Ed.
Scientists.

Teachers.
From old books.
From scientists.
Knowledge comes from
everywhere.
You hear other people talk with
the big words.

People and computers.


Your head.
Peoplewhat they do,
Something you learn.
From going places.

Could you
make
knowledge, and
if so, how?

No: 15
Yes: 1
Dont Know: 4
One girl said, No, because the
Board of Ed makes knowledge.

No: 9
Yes: 11
Id look it up.
You can make knowledge
listening and doing what youre
told.
Id go to the library.
By doing extra credit.

No: 4
Yes: 16
You can make knowledge if you
invent something.
Id think of something to
discover, then Id make it.
You can go explore for new
things.

II. Methods for Data Collection/Investigation


The methods for conducting research are varied
accessing existing databases, Internet searches,
interviews, focus groups, observations, surveys,
etc. There is no reason to assume that even veteran teachers are experienced with or skilled at
teaching these research techniquesall the better
to create a classroom community environment in
which the techniques themselves are the subject of
study and the teacher is not the sole repository for
research knowledge. In research methodology,
the process of drawing conclusions using multiple data techniques and sources is called triangulation and can help reduce bias in the ndings.
However, the researchers should be aware that
every method of data collection has the potential
to introduce bias, and here, too, critical questioning is needed to expose and understand those
biases.

Following are ve research methods our students


have found useful. Ultimately, each is built on a
sophisticated and nuanced set of skills that few
adults have mastered. Even so, the learning
curve for younger as well as older students is
rapid, and students are quick to critique and learn
from their early difculties. Rather than pounding
away at techniques its best to offer pointers
that groups of students are sure to reconsider
when they are in the midst of their reections and
raising self-critical questions such as Should
I have asked a follow-up? Did I wait enough
time for an answer? Did I remember to introduce myself and explain why I was asking the
questions? What do I know about the Internet
author or organization that published these data?
And so on.

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Accesing Existing Information. Students
can learn about school conditions from a number
of public sources. Newspapers, for example,
can be searched for recent articles about problems facing local schools. Government websites
feature data, reports, and legislation. To meet
federal guidelines, the State and local districts must
create annual reports on their programs and student performance. Students can access much of
this information online, through general searches
and by browsing the web pages of the California
Department of Education and their local district.
It is often helpful to use these data sources to
compare conditions at schools serving affluent
and low-income communities.
Of course, public reports are not the products
of critical research. They often lack vital information about educational opportunity and they
frequently downplay or disguise inequalities.
Students should always ask: Does this data make
sense from my own lived experience? What is

Online Educational
Data Sources
California Department of Education CBEDS
database les
http://www.cde.ca.gov/ope/research/
Download any California Basic Education Data Systems information that is available through DataQuest are available for
download here, though are generally to large to download to
Excel. Data available by ethnicity, gender, English language
learners, and poverty.
California Postsecondary Education
Commission
http://www.cpec.ca.gov/OnLineData/FindRpt.asp
Query or download College Going Counts, First Time Freshmen, Transfer Students, Higher Education Enrollments,
Degrees, High School Graduates, Private High School Grads,
Student Profiles, and Student Levels. Information is available
by ethnicity, and gender.
DataQuest
http://data1.cde.ca.gov/DataQuest/
Query user-created reports that include information on
the API, Course Enrollments, Dropouts, English learners,
Enrollments, Expulsions, Graduates, High School Exit Exam,
High School (SAT, ACT, AP0 scores, Physical fitness results,
Projected Teacher Hires, Special Education, Staffing, Stanford
9 Results). Information available by ethnicity, gender, SES,
and grade level.

not being reported here? By identifying gaps


in existing data, students generate an agenda for
their own investigation.
Interviews. Interviews are enormously challenging interactions and students have much to
learn from themcognitively, substantively, and
socially. They are also fun. Students can interv
other students, educators, policy makers, and
activists. Interviews with young people document
the daily experiences of youth in schools and how
they make sense of these experiences. Interviews
with educators, policy makers, and activists provide student researchers with a record of adults
explaining why things are the way they are and
how they might be changed.
Well-prepared student interviewers frequently
report having a sense of expertise and efcacy
they have rarely experienced, perhaps because
they possess a breadth of information about a
topic that the interviewee has only considered

Ed Week
http://www.edweek.org/sreports
The special reports section reports data and graphs by
state for teacher quality and technology. Free registration is required to retrieve this information.
Ed-Data
http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/
Query educational portraits at the state, county, district,
and school level. Included are school types, enrollments,
charter schools, class size, technology, student characteristics including ethnicity, language, free/reduced
lunch, and staff characteristics including ethnicity,
credential type, and assignment. User-created queries
can be made to compare districts and schools. Also,
statewide and national comparison of schools is available. Pre-made graphs are available for a snapshot of
Californias education system.
National Center for Educational
Statistics
http://nces.ed.gov/
Query this site created by the primary federal entity that
collects and analyzes education-related data from the
United States and other nations. This site features data
from school and district locator tools; numerous education statistics; publications; and a searchable database
of NCES tables and figures.

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Creating Interview Questions
One group of student researchers in Summer 2002 examined access to technology and textbooks
across several schools.

Student Interview Questions:


1. Do you feel it is important to have home and school copies of textbooks? Why or why not?
2. How does Internet access help enhance your educational experience?
3. Do you feel your culture is accurately and equally represented in your schools textbooks?
Why or why not? Why is this important?
4. What have you been required to buy for school that was a burden for you or your family?
Do you feel the school should have provided that item? Why or why not?

supercially. Further, when interviewing other


experts on a topic, student interviewers are driven
by a desire for data. Often the initial condescending attitude of adult interviewees evolves into a
genuinely collegial discussion. Students are fascinated by these sometimes predictable and sometimes surprising social and power relationships
and, upon reection, gain a deeper understanding
of the roles these relationships play in shaping
policy and social life.
There are some obvious handy hints of good
interviews: plan well, know what you want to
learn, design good questions, practice or role play
the interview, have alternate follow-up questions,
allow sufcient wait-time, make sure your tape
recorder has batteries and you know how to work
it, research the interviewees background when
you can, work with a partner so one can concentrate on questions while the other takes notes,
and so on. A digital photo of the setting (school
or classroom) and the people (with their permission) helps reconstruct the environment and many
of the details afterwards. These techniques are
important to explain and review, but the techniques are really (or deeply) learned upon reection with others who shared similar experiences
and miscues in their interviews.

Interviewing Elected ofcials


Moises Castillo and Lizbeth
Antonio of Santa Monica
High School, Aminah Hasan,
of Westmark High School
and Professor Ernest Morrell
of Michigan State University, interviewed Delaine
Eastin, Superintendent
of Schools for the State of
California, on student access
to a quality education.

California is below the national average


in per pupil spending but we are the most
expensive state in the union to live.
Moises Castillo: What should we do to improve the
quality of teachers in Californias schools?
Delaine Eastin: We have to raise the pay to be a teacher in
this state. Teachers should be treated like professionals and paid
at a much higher level than they are paid now. Then, if somebody
wants to be off in the summer, they can pick an 80% contract.
Also, more teachers need to be encouraged to do staff development. For example, in the private sector, when a person works for
a company and we want to train them on a new operating system
or a new protocol or anything else, the company doesnt tell them
to take vacation time and pay their own way. Why should teachers
be treated so differently? It is time that we really give them the full
salary that you need to have to live in California.
MC: What are some of the barriers that are getting in the way
of making this happen?

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DE: California is below the national average in per pupil spending but we are the most expensive state in the union to live. We
have to raise per pupil spending. We have the largest class size in
America above the third grade. We have to lower class sizes and
that means building more classrooms and hiring more teachers.
All this means more resources. The RAND Corporation did a
study and it showed that if you look at the factors that contribute
to the most successful students in the most successful states,
they spend more money per child. That is one out of five things
they do. They also have lower class sizes in elementary education; they have public preschool available for all kids, not just rich
kids; teachers report a lower turnover; and teachers report that
they have enough resources. All that stems back to the first factor,
which is higher per pupil spending, higher resources per child.
Lizbeth Antonio: How would you describe your role in
education?
DE: The role of the State Superintendent is several fold. First,
you are not the dictator or the empress and you dont tell people
what to do. In fact, a lawsuit that my predecessor lost says that the
State Board sets policy and certainly the governor and the legislature play a big role in setting policy and the budget. The state superintendent can in fact be used as a bully pulpit to be an advocate
for children and education. I advocated for class-size reduction for
K-3 and got ridiculed by the governor at the time, Pete Wilson, and
by some member legislators. Eventually, we got class-size reduction. I supported standards for all kids and all schools, and now we
have standards. At one point when Governor Wilson had illegally
taken $2.3 Billion out of schools, I was part of the lawsuit against
him to make him put that money back. We, in fact, got the money
back and that is where we actually got the money to do class-size
reduction. There isnt as much power and authority as one might
think, but there is a lot more moral persuasion and you do have
a bully pulpit. You can get in to see an editorial board and any of
the many interest groups that affect public policy. You can testify
before the legislature, and you can generally be a voice to fight for
what is right for kids.
LA: What type of changes would you like to see in the
California public school curriculum?
DE: I would like to see every child learning at least two languages. I would like to see the arts strengthened in the California public
school system. We are dead last in the number of music teachers.
I would also like to see every school have a garden in its school,
so that kids could really learn not only where food comes from but
also what the basis of a healthy diet is. I would certainly like to see
every California school have a complete and full public library with
a librarian. Id like to see us with more nurses and more counselors, as well as smaller class sizes in K-3.
AH: What are the current educational resources that students and teachers are entitled to?
DE: The State Constitution says that you are entitled to a free
and appropriate education, but it doesnt really define that in
specific terms. Every school isnt the same. Resources available to
a student at a small school like Whale Gulch in Mendocino County,
that doesnt even have electricity, arent many. I wish that I could
say that every district uses all of its money wisely and gives every
child a credentialed teacher and a textbook. Not every district

does an excellent job providing for that. We try to cajole them and
sometimes we sue them to try to force them to give kids what they
should be getting. We have a ways to go in California before we
give every child a free and appropriate education in my view.
AH: In yo ur opinion, why is it important that students have
access to educational resources?
DE: It is more important than it has ever been. In a democracy
where people respect one another, people have to be well educated. Even the founders of our country understood that. Now we
live in the information age where not only do we need to respect
your neighbors and one another, but we have to make sure that
you learn at a very high level because there are no good jobs left
in America for unskilled workersnone. If you really want a good
job in America, it is very important that you have a good education
because this is the information age. They use a lot of robots now
in a lot of what used to be considered unskilled labor. Now they
would have a few semi-skilled laborers. I had a high school student
tell me once that she was going to drop out of high school, join the
army, and drive a tank. I said if you cant read at the 13th grade
level and dont have high levels of skill in math, you cant drive a
tank.
When I was a child, you opened up the hood of the cars in the
1950s and it was a very simple matter (although I still couldnt fix
it). However, at the time you didnt need the level of education that
you need today to be a car mechanic.
AH: How evenly are educational resources appropriated
among California schools?
DE: The good news is that they are more equal than they once
were. The bad news is that not all of the money follows the child
into the classroom. Some districts are inefficient and a very few are
corrupt. Not every childs needs are the same. Even if you gave an
identical amount of money to two schools, if one school had lots of
children who didnt have books and opportunities to learn at home,
those children might need additional support. They would need
more than a child from a very affluent community, whose parents
have books in every room, has tutors, and lots of other support.
Again, I think that our goal should be not just absolute equality,
dollar per dollar, but in fact, additional support for children that
have learning challenges.
AH: What type of legislation would you support that would
establish equality in the amount of educational resources in
all California schools?
DE: I would raise teachers salaries even higher among some of
the poorest schools because that would be an attraction for more
senior teachers to work in some of the schools where the kids
really need extra help. Right now, lots of these schools have the
newest teachers and face the challenge that a lot of the teachers
are not fully credentialed. The kids with the biggest needs have
the least equipped teachers. I would reverse that and say that we
are actually going to give a bonus where we are going to pay more
and spend more for the poorest children. I would make sure the
schools were clean, well-lighted, safe, up to date with technology
as well as fully equipped libraries and enough nurses, counselors,
and of course good teachers. I would make sure that they would
have great sport programs, but also make sure that they would
have great art programs.

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Focus groups. Focus groups is the term
that researchers use for group interviews. There
are many ways to run a focus group such as small
breakout groups or large group discussions; and
there are a variety of ways to elicit the discussions
such as direct questions to individuals, turn-taking answers, or more of a free owing discussion
that is guided, but not strongly controlled by the
researcher. The group leader can supply a variety
of prompts such as data that the group might not
be familiar with, charts or videos, or simply questions.
Focus groups are not just a more efcient way
to get information from several people at one
time. Focus groups add a group dynamic that
inuences the responses people give. Whether
that inuence is helpful and whether it adds to
or hides the expressions and genuineness of individual responses depends on how the group is
managed. Focus groups allow the researcher
to see how people come to a consensus, how they
go through a change in their thinking when new
ideas or vocabulary are introduced, and how they
disagree. Focus groups can be followed up with
individual interviews.
Surveys. A survey asks a set of common questions to a large number of individuals. Some surveys seek responses from students in a classroom
or school. Other surveys seek responses from
youth in public places like parks or malls.
Surveys can range from a few questions to a great
many questions, however, shorter surveys tend
to draw a more focused response. It is important
that students design surveys that maintain the
same measurement for responses. In other words,
students might design their survey to measure
responses on a scale of 1-5, with a 1 representing a response of never and 5 representing a
response of always. Likewise, students might
decide to simplify a surveys response options by
only offering informants yes or no response
options. All surveys must be eld tested. That
is, the survey should be administered to a few
trial survey-takers in similar circumstances that

the real survey will be given. A few questions


after the trials can lead to benecial revisions. Do
people seem interested in or bored with answering all the questions? Does anyone get stuck on a
question or misunderstand the meaning? And so
forth.
Student Surveys
Student researchers asked young people at malls
across Los Angeles about the quality of their
curriculum. http://tcla.gseis.ucla.edu/rights/features/7/students/survey/curriculum.html
Los Angeles students rated their responses to the
questions and statements
listed below on a scale of one to five, with one (1)
representing the lowest grade and five (5) the highest.

My classes are preparing me for a successful


future.

I feel like Im being


challenged in my
classes.

I know what courses I


need to graduate and go
to a four-year college.

I often choose my own


class schedule.

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Field notes. Field notes are the researchers
diary or journal of data collection activities. Field
notes are an important part of the research process
because they record what student researchers see
and what they are thinking. Field notes are typically kept in a notebook with each entry recording the date, time and location. When rst taken,
notes are typically brief, fragmented, and may be
illegible. A crucial step can be to write-up the
notescompleting partial thoughts, adding unrecorded circumstances, and so on. This write-up
step needs structured and perhaps supervised time
to complete. The objective of the eld note is to
record what the researcher sees and hears. No
detail should be considered unimportant; no incident too small to record.
July 17, 2002 Field Note
While in South High School, an overwhelming feeling overcame me, a feeling that I was in a school whose students
were in the climactic stages of social reproduction. Talking
to the counselor reaffirmed my conviction: nine hundred
students enter as freshmen; four hundred make it to their
senior year, only two hundred graduate. What happened to
the other seven hundred? It is my belief that they gave up
on the educational system, prompted by years of inequality
and subtle discouragement from achieving great things in
life.
Therefore, conducting a focus group interview was not an
easy task. I noticed right away that the Black and Latino
students separated themselves in the classroom, which is
probably how the school is divided during normal operating
time. Most of the students in the interview were listening,
but it seemed like they did not care enough to give thoughtful and meaningful responses. It seemed as if they thought
they were lab rats, guinea pigs whose responses would be
heard but not valuedalmost as if theyve been in the situation before and been disappointed. I was very happy with
the thoughtful responses of the students that did speak.
They really helped our research, and made me personally
more attuned to their struggles and needs at their high
school.
The schools physical ecology perpetuated incarceration,
in my opinion. Vending machines had thick, metal bars
around them, as well as the windows, and those machines
that were not enclosed were immediately locked up after
the bell rang. I also noticed that there were many places to
sort of hide out, and get into more trouble. Bungalows
were in the far corner of the school, and one girl even commented that she did not even know the school had them. To
me, the cafeteria area was too small to provide sufficient
space for the 2400 students that attend the school, and the
area that most students were made the students look like a
colony of mice whose hiding place had just been exposed.

The researcher should also create a section in


each entry for observer comments. This is the
space for the researcher to reect on questions
such as: Why did the teacher focus on that one
student? Why arent these students angrier
about what they have experienced? How does
this classroom differ from the one we observed
last week? How might I have inserted bias into
my questioning?
III. Analyzing Data
After collecting the data, student researchers need
to make sense of what they have learned. A rst
step in this process is for students to immerse
themselves in all the data. Reviewing all of the
data they have gatheredinterview and focus
group transcripts, survey results, eld notes, and
so onthey are looking for patterns, key ideas,
and themes. These examinations can occur individually, in small research groups, and with people who are less familiar with the research, but
may be more likely to ask basic or critical
questions. Once some key themes and patterns
have been identied, students can design a simple
coding system to match (and mark or identify)
particular pieces of evidence with the broader
themes. These codes work two ways: rst, they
help discover and rene the key research ideas;
and second, once ideas are refined, they help
document the research ndings or arguments.

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IV. Findings and Policy Implications
In this stage, students draw on their data analysis to develop a set of preliminary ndings that
respond to the original research problem. The
teacher and students should discuss what they
have learned that will be of interest to youth,
educators, community members, elected ofcials,
and other researchers. They will also want to talk
about the implications of their ndings for their
own further investigation: Do they need more
data? Do they need to revisit or refocus their
methods or assumptions? Only then can they be
on their way to informing others thinking about
the practices and policies they are investigating.
This stage of the research is particularly transformative for young people. By combining scholarship and experience, they construct knowledge
that helps to make sense out of their daily lives
and that lays out avenues for continued empowerment. Their work gives the students the authority
to demand attention, and it gives prospective audiences a reason to listen.

Creating powerful presentations is an exhausting


and exhilarating process. Students should work
through several drafts of all written products and
rehearse their public performance. There is never
sufcient time to remove or prevent all glitches.
The teacher may want to create a checklist to
guide this development. For example: Do we use
language that everyone in our audience can understand? Do we dene all our terms? When we use
PowerPoint, is the font large enough to be read?
Do our examples grab the audience? Do they
make the points we wish to make? What would a
skeptic say? What message do we leave the audience with? Does this message represent our most
compelling and important nding?
Final Presentations
http://tcla.gseis.ucla.edu/about/archived_
homes/rights7.html

V. Presentation of Critical Research


The nal stage of the research process calls on
students to communicate the central findings
from their data analysis to a variety of audiences.
Teacher and students should generate a list of
people who should hear about their work and then
discuss how to make their research meaningful to
these people. The students will create a research
report and presentation that can include video,
skits, readers theater, PowerPoint presentations,
and so forth. Whatever form they use, students
should: a) explain their research problem and why
it is important; b) describe the methods they used
to examine the problem; c) highlight ndings; and
d) conclude with a set of policy recommendations.
They should also be sure to allow some time to
receive questions.

Moving from the shadows to the forefront of educational


leadership, students culminated the summer seminar by presenting six weeks of critical ethnographic research at UCLAs
prestigious Faculty Center.

12

UCLAs Institute for Democracy,


Education, and Access (IDEA)
IDEA seeks to become an intellectual home of a
broad-based social movement that challenges the
pervasive racial and social class inequalities in
education. IDEA brings diverse constituencies
together to create knowledge and action that can
disrupt the cultural assumptions and political
arrangements that prevent opportunity and civic
participation. Taking our cues from social
movements and grassroots community organizing,
rather than from conventional approaches to
reform, IDEA creates and supports networks
of UCLA scholars, educators, advocates, community
activists, and young people in research and action
that empower individuals, build relationships,
and create knowledge and action for social change.
Jeannie Oakes, Director
John Rogers, Associate Director

1041 Moore Hall, Box 951521


Los Angeles, CA 90095
310-206-8725
idea@ucla.edu