“I Was Very Impressed”: Responses of Surprise to Students of Color Engaged in Youth Participatory Action Research

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This article explores decision makers’ responses of surprise or amazement to Students of Color engaged in youth participatory action research (YPAR). To address this topic, I draw upon data collected from a yearlong qualitative study of a YPAR group, applying the theoretical aspects of critical discourse analysis. The findings indicate that the decision makers in the sample expressed surprise at three aspects of YPAR: the students’ (a) capacity as researchers, (b) professionalism, and (c) motivation. These responses—termed “the discourse of surprise”—may have constrained the transformative potential of the students’ research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1370-1397
Number of pages28
JournalUrban Education
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2019



  • Students of Color
  • systemic racism
  • youth participatory action research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Urban Studies

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