A course-based approach to collaborative, participatory research centering student voice

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

American Public Health Association 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo

Conference Location

Denver, CO and Virtual


We are a student-faculty research team that coalesced through a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) at San José State University - a diverse urban state university in California. Using decolonizing design, teams of students conduct a cross-sectional study from conceptualization through survey design, IRB approval, data collection, analysis, and presentation scaffolded to the pace of an introductory epidemiology course. Students are positioned as experts in their lived experiences and encouraged to pursue questions relevant to their lives. Detailed, direct feedback at each stage allows students to build confidence in their abilities, strengthening the study quality while centering student voice. This work puts faculty in the service of students, with the faculty's role being methodological and navigational as the student explores and then enters the world of research. Through three cycles of this 25-student course, ~20% of students have gone on to disseminate their work through scholarly products including conference presentations, reports, and manuscripts. From a student perspective: “We are often told our perspective matters, but this project gave me a chance to actually pursue issues in social justice that matter to me.” From a faculty perspective: “This work allows me to integrate teaching, research, and mentorship in support of organizing and amplifying student voices, decolonizing epidemiology research, and producing a more diverse public health workforce.” Using the example of the COVID-19 Inequities Study, we will guide the audience through how to conduct this type of collaborative study and share tips on catalyzing ingredients that inspire students and ease faculty workload.


Public Health and Recreation