“Student action research: preventing bullying in secondary school – Inkla project”

This paper provides a practical guide to using youth action research to engage  “bullying” among high school students  It also offers important insights into building partnerships among various stakeholder groups – high school students, university students, and professional researchers – all of whom represent different age-groups, roles, and social statuses.

Young people have a lot to say about how best to manage and reform their schools so it makes sense to go straight to the source and ask them not only to share opinions about their experiences but also to play a crucial role in school improvement plans and efforts. Unfortunately, there is not always the case and often students express the feeling that they don’t have a voice when it came to making decisions and choices in school policy.  

Inkla project, initiated by secondary school students and supported by university students and researchers, tried to shift this tendency by giving students an opportunity not only to explore intragroup relations and problems as bullying or peer group exclusion but also to plan and implement methods to stop bullying and create supportive peer groups. The project consisted of six stages: from planning and conducting interviews with peers, through data analysis and class meetings to implementing changes at schools and presenting them during the conference. Students had also a chance to create PhotoVoice exhibition and show on photographs their views feelings and emotions concerning their everyday life.

It was crucial for the project, that students felt empowered and became more aware of their school context. They realized that their actions matter and can influence class climate and the way everybody feels in the class. As one Inkla participant commented “It’s so cool to see that by laughing at a bully we made him stop, and it only took three days. Before, we had to put up with him for a year. We didn’t know what to do so everybody pretended it was ok.”

The presented project was demanding but also inspiring for us, university researchers, as we wanted to avoid being considered ‘teacher-like’ figures but at the same time manage effectively a research project which involved altogether 136 people. We had to find the ways to create a democratic space for open dialogue and cooperation.

Blog post written by Małgorzata Wójcik


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