Partnering with Indigenous student co-researchers: Improving research processes and outcomes
Objective. To examine the contribution of student co-researchers to a community-based participatory Photovoice investigation of Indigenous children's food-related lived experience. We examine co-researchers' contributions to the research process, their role in knowledge co-generation and dissemination, and factors that fostered research partnership with the teenage co-researchers. Methods. High school students attending a First Nation community school in Canada were trained as research
... s research partners. They contributed to aspects of research design, conducted interviews with grades 3 and 4 Photovoice participants, and participated in data analysis and the development of a culturally relevant photobook. The study was initiated by the community's research committee. It is informed by critical consciousness theory and the positive youth development framework. Results. Student co-researchers incorporated culturally appropriate strategies as they interviewed participants. Co-researchers adopted conversational approaches, built rapport by articulating personal and cultural connections, and engaged in mentoring and health promotion as they interviewed participants. They made critical contributions to dissemination by developing photobook content that promoted the importance of traditional foods and the vital role of family and community in healthy eating practices. Relationships and "dialogic" space were important to building partnership with and promoting capacity development among youth co-researchers. Conclusions. Partnership between university researchers and Indigenous student co-researchers holds great promise for health promotion in communities. Co-researchers developed research and leadership skills, gained understanding of health challenges facing their community, and initiated health and cultural promotion through the project's Photobook. This investigation supports the powerful potential of student co-researchers to meaningfully contribute to research processes and to build knowledge that is relevant and credible both within and outside of their communities. Findings have implications for youth, communities and researchers.