(1 - 1 of 1)
- Teacher participatory action research on food insecurity, food and culture, and school gardens within a low-income urban school district
- Stapleton, Sarah Riggs
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
This project utilizes participatory action research with a group of four veteran urban teachers to explore the differing ways in which food intersects with the lives of low-income youth in schools. There are two major aims for this research project. The first aim concerns the content of the projects: food and schools. Food deeply affects schools, students, and communities, yet it has not been given adequate attention by formal educators, education researchers, and curriculum developers....
Show moreThis project utilizes participatory action research with a group of four veteran urban teachers to explore the differing ways in which food intersects with the lives of low-income youth in schools. There are two major aims for this research project. The first aim concerns the content of the projects: food and schools. Food deeply affects schools, students, and communities, yet it has not been given adequate attention by formal educators, education researchers, and curriculum developers. Through explorations of social, cultural, and economic dimensions of food in urban schools, our group strives to present a case for the relevance and importance of food in schools to formal educators. The four teachers devise and implement their own action research projects to investigate the ways in which food intersects with the lives of their students in one low-income urban school district. Their projects include unit design and assignments about food systems and food & culture, creation of a backpack feeding program, a potluck for English Language Learner students and their families, an investigation of the ways in which a change in district food service providers changed the ways food insecure students eat in school, and a creation of an afterschool garden club focused on STEM concepts and project-based learning. Findings from these projects include an appreciation of the ability of food-focused curriculum to engage students, an understanding of the possibilities and challenges of implementing food assistance programs in schools, an awareness of the deep impact of district food service providers in addressing food insecurity for students, and the potential for students to show ownership of garden projects. Findings across the projects include the importance of the perspective of teachers as school insiders for the design and implementation of projects about food in schools, the plethora of issues surrounding food in low-income schools, the importance of food and students’ own familial food cultures within educational settings, and the pressing concerns of food insecurity for many youth in urban schools. The second aim of this work is methodological. I am using a methodology I have termed teacher participatory action research (TPAR) to make a case that teachers who work with marginalized students have themselves become marginalized by association as a result of current neoliberal policies. As part of this methodology, the teachers conduct their own action research projects, while I explore and analyze the contexts in which they work that have led to their challenging contextual work conditions. To analyze their city, district, and school contexts I use a combination of place and neoliberal frameworks. I also document the ways in which the teachers have reported feeling marginalized within their jobs. I employ poetic inquiry to allow me to share their stories in ways that can be shared with larger audiences while also protecting them from political fallout since their identities are disclosed within the larger research project. I hope that this project may serve as an example of ways in which university researchers and teachers can collaborate to share their respective strengths—for teachers, an emic knowledge about a place, school, and district context, and for researchers an etic view of these places within a larger context and training in research methodologies—while working to improve conditions for students and teachers.