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Research Articles

Vol. 25 No. 3

Impact of COVID-19 on a Participatory Action Research Project: Group Level Assessments with Undergraduate Women in Engineering

December 11, 2020


As participatory action researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic, we struggle with maintaining meaningful collaboration with our community partners while navigating social distancing guidelines. For the past several years, we have been working with undergraduate women in engineering at a large, public, mid-western research university to assess their experiences on campus and during their co-op rotations in order to influence equitable programming and inclusive practices at our institution. We have been primarily using Group-Level Assessment, a qualitative, participatory research method that is rooted in inclusivity, stakeholder engagement, and instigating actionable change. When our university went remote, we were faced with the challenge of transitioning our community research partnership online and continuing to use our chosen method. The current article compares participant experiences in both an in-person and remote environment, in order to assess the effectiveness of moving our participatory research practices to an online platform. Findings indicated that while both in-person and virtual Group-Level Assessments allowed participants to better understand others’ experiences and allowed their voices to be heard, the in-person method was more engaging. However, the virtual method allowed for more time to do action planning.