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Project details

Start date: February 2022
Status: Finished
Duration: 5 months
Country: The Netherlands

Sustainable Development Goals

Goede gezondheid en Welzijn

PAR Report

Participatory Action Research, a new way of doing research

A qualitative evaluation study on PAR, as used during the SevenSenses Challenges

Project team


Currently, the world is faced with a growing number of issues with increasing complexity—problems i.e., globalization, climate change, women’s rights, and human empowerment.With increasing societal issues, in scope and complexity, the need for solutions has also increased. Traditional research method frequently fails to connect with the needs of society (Eelderink, 2021).In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in a new type of research approach: Action research (de Villiers et al., 2007). Action research is designed to be as much as possible a cooperative learning process of the researcher and participant (society). Based on the belief that science can never be value-free, the research objectives and values are jointly determined, and an attempt is made to arrive at valid and usable knowledge about them intersubjectively(Tromp, 2006).The increasing interest in AR is rising because increasingly complex issues in society require research approaches that can cross disciplinary boundaries. However,in academia, action research is having a hard time. Scientific disciplines inspired by action research are disappearing. Scientists argue that this approach is not enough for critical theorists who see the voices of the researchers in these accounts too much. Universities prefer not to involve themselves in such complex people-based research. The PAR approach believes that the researchers and the local community will take action to understand and improve the problems and situations in which they find themselves by gaining more control over their lives through the construction and application of knowledge (Baum, 2006).According to Luanganggoon (2006, p. 9), there is no reason why action research approaches should not be used optimally. Therefore, this study will obtain more knowledge and insights regarding PAR.The research question will be:‘Is the PAR approach, conducted during the SevenSenses challenges considered to be successful?’

PAR Design


Based on the Method evaluation model, used in this study, it appeared that PAR is successful. PAR is actual efficient; SevenSenses has succeeded in creating a clear and easy-to-understand training. Which helps reduce the effort to perform PAR during the challenges. Another unique aspect was the cooperation with the local researcher, which also reduced the effort to perform PAR. PAR is actual effective, Not only does PAR achieve its objectives it also creates empowerment and ownership among the local community. PAR is not perceived as effortless in all aspects, but it is perceived as clear and easy-to-understand. Participants even say ‘it was one of the most beautiful experiences of their lives’ The participants were willing to work hard because they were empowered, satisfied, and got a lot of energy back from the local people. PAR is perceived to be useful. The participants believe that they would not have achieved the intended objectives without the use of PAR, as opposed to traditional research for example. PAR is indented to use in the future by the participants and according to Moody (2006), for a method to be successful, ‘it must not just enhance task performance, but also people’s willingness to use it.’

The knowledge obtained during the PAR challenges represented local communities defining their own experiences, needs, and ways of representing themselves. This study showed that the challenges exemplify what can be achieved using a PAR approach. While not without its challenges and complexities, SevenSenses has implemented PAR processes to support important change processes for communities and the stakeholders involved. PAR gives a voice to communities in identifying the factors impacting their social and emotional well-being and encourages them to see themselves as agents of social change. The researcher wants to show that PAR can contribute to the scientific world, by connecting with the needs of society. 

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