The America Connects Consortium's Youth Participatory Research (YPR) project developed a new approach to introducing young people to basic research concepts that uses hand-held computers, multimedia-based surveys, and visual data analysis software to support student-directed research efforts. Developed by EDC's Center for Children and Technology (CCT), which directs the YPR project, the new approach includes a set of tools for creating and conducting surveys using video clips drawn from popular media to illustrate survey questions. Students construct and administer the surveys on hand-held computing devices (such as Pocket PCs), and then use visual data analysis software (TinkerPlots) especially designed to enable young people to intuitively explore research data.
CCT piloted the tools with youth participants at a number of community technology centers, including the Long Beach, New York Community Technology Center (Long Beach CTC). Drawing from a library of video content and survey questions focused on school-to-work and career preparation issues, young researchers at each site constructed surveys to investigate their peers' attitudes toward work and the connections between work and school and then download them to a PocketPC. The young researchers asked their friends and schoolmates to watch the clips and answer questions that follow the clips. Results were uploaded to the project server. At the end of their data collection, the researchers explored the patterns in their data using TinkerPlots, an application that facilitates the intuitive exploration of data by allowing the user to click and drag whatever variables they want to explore. In the process of analyzing the responses of their peers, the young researchers explored their own attitudes towards these issues, developed problem solving and teamwork skills, and gained a basic understanding of survey research.
About the America Connects Consortium
The America Connects Consortium (ACC), established in the Fall of 2000 by the U.S. Department of Education, helps community technology centers (CTCs) create programs that leverage computer technology to improve academic achievement, teach job-related skills, build small businesses, and empower their constituents to become 'digital citizens.' As part of the consortium, CCT provided research and development support around issues of concern to CTCs, including a review of the literature concerning community technology and the digital divide and a series of fact sheets on topics such as program evaluation, cultural diversity and the Internet, and barriers and challenges that CTCs commonly face.