Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Matthew E. Davis, PhD

Second Reader

Katie Lewis, PhD


There have been multiple studies including youth in participatory action research, and specifically photovoice projects (Wang, 2006). However, little research has been done connecting youth participatory action research to students’ hope and sense of agency. There is also a lack of existing studies that assess young students’ critical awareness of how social power operates in our culture and in their lives (Christens, Byrd, Peterson, & Lardier, 2018).

Photovoice methodology provided eight of my fourth- and fifth-grade students in northern California – most of whom live in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood in socioeconomically disadvantaged circumstances, situated within a predominantly white and affluent county – with the opportunity to engage in critical analyses of perceived injustices and their relation to power structures. I conducted a convergent mixed methods study involving the collection, analysis, and interpretation of both qualitative and quantitative data.

This study focused on student responses to two question series presented in survey and interview format. It also focused on student experience participating in a photovoice project. To this end, the questions were formed based on the following central questions: (1) How do students perceive structures of power? (2) How do students’ perceptions of power impact their agency and hope? (3) How does photovoice methodology impact students’ agency and hope?

The findings show how students believe that whether or not an individual’s voice is perceived as valued plays a significant role in whether or not this individual feels critical hopefulness and a sense of agency. Findings also indicate that students distinguish the fairness of specific situations in part through relation to associated considerations of access, dirtiness, and brokenness. Finally, this study showed photovoice as an example of reflective methodology to newly engage students in learning

IRB Number