Skip to Main Content

Student Leadership Research Collaborative

The Ohio State University Student Research Leadership Collaborative is an opportunity to bring students together from multiple school districts, representing a diverse population of students working together in a structured format to produce real change. 


The Student Leadership Research Collaborative gives students a structured platform to research, discuss, and solve issues they identify. Participants will learn the skills and form the relationships they need to become change leaders at their schools. Throughout the year, students will: 
• Attend eight sessions beginning October 2023 through May 2024. 
• Engage in a mix of hands-on activities, simulations, and work groups. 
• Share ideas with peers from other districts. 
• Learn from dynamic speakers including youth advocates, community experts, and school administrators. 
• Work closely with OSU, student mentors, and teams from their district to solve issues identified through the collaborative YPAR process.

Why a Collaborative?

I have always believed student voice is imperative to both hope and real change. This belief drove my work as coach, principal, and superintendent in six Ohio school districts. Often, we discovered students wanted a platform to discuss change but did not know how to go about making these changes into reality. The current climate of social justice advocacy and energy has been evident in each school, especially during the last several years. Students have wanted to talk about things and act, and if not given some type of structure, they create their own, potentially dividing communities and schools. We believe it is important to be proactive not reactive to this change.

 The collaborative is an opportunity for school districts to bring students together in an interactive way to positively support these ideas. The Ohio State University Student Research Leadership Collaborative (OSU SLRC) has been the conduit to bring students together from multiple school districts, representing a diverse population of learners working together in a structured format to produce real change. Student teams of five each representing multiple Central and Southeast Ohio school districts will come together monthly beginning in the fall to explore leadership qualities, quantitative/qualitative measurement, and advocacy strategies consistent with change. Through support from our collaborative partners, students will become "voices of change" for their respective schools and communities and present their results in early May.

 What really makes this project unique is the research component attached to advocacy. Student participants are not only supported in their individual school districts by a staff member but are also mentored by students at The Ohio State University, year two and three students, to identify an issue or problem in their respective communities and/or school. Through their hypotheses students will learn leadership skills that are consistent with that of a truly educated young advocate. After collecting and interpreting data, students will present their findings through both a poster and oral presentation virtually to district administrators in early May.

In summary, the anticipated outcomes for student participants is growth in: Leadership * Advocacy * Research. We are excited to bring this opportunity to the students of Central Ohio and appreciate the work of our supporting partners in making this happen. Real change begins by authentically educating and supporting young minds!

Dr. Keith M. Bell, Sr.
College of Education and Human Ecology


The Process

    Identify five 10th grade students to participate in the collaborative (see student profile).
    Identify second year participants and enter information on registration form.
    Complete the registration form including name and personal email information.
    Identify a staff mentor/teacher leader to participate with each team for each session (see staff mentor profile).
    Submit the registration form by October 13, 2023.
    Participation/registration confirmation will be sent to teacher leader, students and building principal via email. Students will receive a zoom link for virtual sessions.

Why Students Should Participate?

    Exposure to college level instruction in quantitative and qualitative research.
    Exposure to college level delivery of advocacy to action skills.
    Leadership workbook and personal leadership journals provided.
    Student leadership skills and actions.
    Certificate of completion from The Ohio State University.
    Youth Participatory Action Research curriculum delivery.
    Experience can be used for college resume.
    Exposure to Ohio State education doctoral students as additional mentors.
    Opportunity to create real change.
    Learn how to become an empowered student advocate for change.
    Connect with peers from other Central Ohio school districts.
    Have fun and learning new knowledge.

Why Districts/Schools Should Participate?

  • Opportunity to address student social and emotional needs.
  • Innovative educational experience for students.
  • Opportunity for students to work with peers in Central Ohio schools.
  • College level research, leadership and advocacy instruction.
  • Youth Participatory Action Research Curriculum.
  • Potentially connect disconnected students.
  • Integrate current knowledge into action.
  • Exposure to Ohio State academic and admission resources.
  • College Credit Plus (CCP) opportunities through Cleveland State University for second year students.
  • Graduate Credit opportunities for teacher leader/advisors through Cleveland State University (from 2-5 graduate credits).
  • NO COST for participants – all schools/districts need do is get them to the location. Meal and instruction included with thanks to our collaborative sponsors.

Student Profile

    Any student that is passionate about creating positive change in your school or community.
    Any student that would benefit from working collaboratively as a team to create real change for their school or community.
    Any student that may be an informal leader in the school without an outlet to channel ideas and energy.
    Any student that thinks outside of the traditional methodology of education and would benefit from something different.
    Any student that may be currently disengaged in school and has leadership qualities, but no outlet to explore possibilities.
    Any student that would be an asset to the learning of other students.
    Any student looking for answers.
    Student council members/various leaders from extra- and co-curricular clubs and organizations that have not had student professional development in leadership.

Teacher/Leader/Advisor Profile

    Staff members that work to offer student growth opportunities such as guidance counselors, building administrators, teacher leaders, teachers on special assignment, interested staff members, safety and security personnel, and any staff that would positively support student growth.
    Virtually attend sessions with students assisting with presentation interpretation where needed.
    While students do the work, staff mentors work with students to help them think through potential boundaries and direct them to resources to support the problem or issue they want to address.
    Guide on the side with student breakout groups.

Collaborative Partners

  • Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
  • ESC of Central Ohio
  • Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio
  • The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology
  • Cleveland State University Center for Urban Education
  • Columbus State Community College
  • The Ohio State University Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
  • Phil Mallott Family Foundation
  • Jostens
  • McGraw Hill
  • Veregy LLC
  • P2i Foundation
  • Moody Nolan Architecture
  • UXO Sports
  • State Farm Insurance
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Ohio High School Athletic Association
  • First Ring Student Leadership Institute
  • Participating school districts


See registration form here and submit by October 13, 2023.

Advisor/Teacher Orientation: Thursday, October 12, 2023 at 6:00 pm (virtual/zoom)

Session I: Thursday, October 19, 2023, at Columbus State Community
Session II: Tuesday, November 14, 2023 (In-person at The Ohio State University Student Union with First Ring Student Leadership Institute students and teachers from Northeast Ohio)
Session III: Thursday, December 14, 2023 (Virtual Zoom link)
Session IV: Thursday, January 25, 2024 @ Columbus State Community College
Session V: Thursday, February 22, 2024, at Columbus State Community College
Session VI: Wednesday, March 4, 2024 (In Cleveland at Cleveland State University Wolstein Center with First Ring Student Institute students and teachers. Bus departure at 7:30am. Return 6:00 pm at ESC of Central Ohio)
Session VII: Tuesday, April 16, 2024, Virtual
Session VIII: Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Columbus State Community College

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Dr. Keith Bell at [email protected] or 614-554-0505 (mobile).

Year 1: Leadership, Research & Advocacy

High school sophomores/juniors investigate an issue at their school using YPAR methods and other quantitative and qualitative research to deepen YPAR findings. 
• Teams of five students from each school or district research the nature, causes, and potential solutions to a community, school or district issue that’s important to them 
• In May, students present their solutions through a capstone and oral presentation to district administrators.

Year 2: Authentic Action

Year 1 students move on to year 2 as juniors/ seniors to put their ideas into action and mentor other Collaborative students. 
• Participants learn how to raise awareness about their research and influence decisionmakers to act on their recommendations 
• Participants will conduct authentic statewide research in partnership with the FRSLI students, working with support from the Kirwan Institute at The Ohio State University.

Year 3: Continued Authentic Action

Students work with the Kirwan Institute to identify potential community issues and conduct authentic research within the chosen area.

Youth Participatory Action Research

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a research methodology that empowers young people by recognizing them as experts of their own life experiences. YPAR allows youth and adults to share authority to gather data on the problems in
their schools and communities, develop solutions, and share their gained knowledge with others.

Resources for Action Civics & Youth Activism

This website is intended to be used by school teachers and community-based educators – in short, anyone who works with young people to become agents of change in their schools or communities. The website includes curriculum linked to each step of the action civics pathway. It also includes an assessment rubric and video examples that can be used to support students’ development of high-quality policy arguments. 

Learn More

See video highlights and what students had to say about the The Ohio State University Student Research Leadership Collaborative here.