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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

YPAR and PBL: A Tale of Two Acronyms, Or Are They Twins Separated at Birth?



Howdy! Here we are again, ready to navigate the educational labyrinth together. Today’s query has us asking: "Is YPAR like Project Based Learning (PBL)?" This question is one I often get asked in my courses. I get it. At first glance they seem a lot like. It's like trying to tell apart two similar-looking celebrities. Are they siblings, or just a case of Hollywood doppelgängers? So, let’s pull out our metaphorical magnifying glasses and start our investigative journey.


Before we dig in, let's do a quick 'Who’s Who' of the acronyms. YPAR stands for Youth Participatory Action Research, a process where young learners are actively involved in identifying, researching, and acting upon issues that affect them. On the other hand, PBL, or Project Based Learning, is an instructional approach where students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to complex questions, problems, or challenges over an extended period of time.


Now, at first glance, YPAR and PBL could be mistaken for identical twins. They both promote student-driven learning, encourage the application of knowledge to real-world problems, and have a knack for making traditional classroom activities look as outdated as a flip phone in the era of holographic communication.


But like those celebrity look-alikes, once you move past the surface, you start to notice some differences. YPAR is a bit like PBL’s more radical cousin. It shares the hands-on, real-world problem-solving aspect, but it goes a step further by explicitly aiming to balance the power dynamics between students and teachers. In YPAR, students aren't just learning about issues, they're actively working towards driving social change.


YPAR also insists on incorporating the lived experiences of students as part of the research process. It's not just about finding solutions, it's about shedding light on experiences, stirring up conversations, and shaking the status quo. Like that outspoken cousin at a family gathering, YPAR isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers.


So, to answer the big question: Yes, YPAR is a bit like PBL. They're from the same extended educational family, and they certainly share some DNA. But YPAR has its unique spin, ensuring students don't just learn about the world but also take an active role in transforming it.


I guess you could say they're like non-identical twins – similar in many ways, but each bringing their unique flair to the family reunion. And trust me, the educational family reunion is much more interesting with both of them in it!


Until next time,

keep on investigating, my daring detectives of education!

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