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Engaging student voice in DC education research

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Gustavo Rosas Cardoso and several fellow student researchers from the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) earned the unique opportunity to present their research at one of the most prominent education conferences in the world with the help of the DC Education Research Collaborative. 

The CHEC team was selected to present at the 2023 American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in Chicago, IL, as part of AERA’s first-ever “Youth Teams in Education Research Program” session.  

Over the three days of the AERA annual meeting, the CHEC students participated in youth-centered programming where they met other student research teams, and they spoke with teachers, principals, superintendents, and school district leaders. For Gustavo, the opportunity to share his work and ideas at AERA was truly inspiring.  

“I’m still so happy that I was able to do such a thing. This was our first time being able to spread our ideas to such a high standard,” Gustavo said. 

The AERA experience stemmed from research the students did at CHEC, using a design thinking approach to test assumptions, gather data, and present recommendations. The research team sought to answer an important question: Why aren’t students eating in the cafeteria?  

With mentorship and guidance from the Collaborative, the students used several methods to gather data and develop recommendations to address the issue of food equity at their school. The research has already yielded positive results at CHEC, including enhanced menus and offerings. Student lunch participation has increased by 17 percent.  

This is just one way that the Collaborative is breaking down barriers between community and research and ensuring that families, policymakers, and educators have greater access to high-quality research.  

The Collaborative’s work with CHEC students provided an opportunity for them to research pressing issues and develop viable solutions, while also gaining access to technical assistance and mentoring from leading education researchers serving our community. We are excited about the Collaborative’s research agenda, as well as the deep community engagement that created it and continues to inform the Collaborative’s work.  

“The way that Ed Forward DC has allowed us to be flexible and have discretion is critical for the way that we do our work. This is a way for us to uplift the actual experts, which are the communities, the schools, the parents, the teachers, and the students,” said Dara Zeehandelaar Shaw, Research Director for the Collaborative. 

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.