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. 

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 didn't know how to go about making these ideas into reality.  The current climate of social justice advocacy and energy has been evident in each school district from the start of the 2020-21 school year.  Students have wanted to talk about things and take action and if not given some type of structure, they will create their own potentially dividing the community and school.  We believe it is important for us to be proactive and not reactive to this change and the collaborative is an opportunity for school districts to bring students together in an interactive way to positively support these ideas. When combined with the challenges associated with learning virtually, this opportunity could not be offered at a better time.

The Ohio State University Student Research Leadership Collaborative is an opportunity 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 (up to 100) representing multiple Central Ohio school districts, will come together monthly beginning in November 2021, to explore leadership qualities, quantitative/qualitative measurement, and advocacy strategies consistent with change.  Through support from the ESC of Central Ohio, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, and Columbus State Community College, students will become voices of changes for their respective schools and communities.

What 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 doctoral students at The Ohio State University to identify a social justice issue within 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:

    Student Leadership
    Student Advocacy
    Student Research

Each session of the collaborative will be offered to students virtually. We are excited to bring this opportunity to the students of Central Ohio and appreciate the work of our support 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


Please complete the following form and submit to Dr. Keith Bell ([email protected]) by Monday, November 8, 2021. 

The Process

    Identify five 11th grade students to participate in the collaborative (see student profile).
    Complete the registration form including name and email information.
    Identify a staff mentor to participate with each team for each session (see staff mentor profile).
    Submit the registration form by November 8, 2021.
    Students will be contacted with Zoom links for each session via email.  Principal and staff mentors will be copied on student communication(s).
    Participate in Collaborative!

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.

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.

Mentor 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

    Grant support from the Martha Holding Jennings Foundation.
    In-kind support from the ESC of Central Ohio.
    In-kind support from The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology.
    In-kind support from Columbus State Community College.
    In-kind support from the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.
    Partnership support from:
        BKG Services
        Phil Mallott family Foundation
        Raider Nutrition
        Moody Nolan Architecture
        P2i Foundation
        UXO Sports
        Cleveland State University Center for Urban Education
        First Ring Student Leadership Institute
        Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio
        Participating Central Ohio School Districts


Registration forms completed and submitted: November 8, 2021

Session I: Thursday, November 11, 2021 (remote delivery)
Session II: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 (remote delivery)
Session III: Thursday, January 27, 2022 (joint remote delivery with First Ring Student Leadership students from Cleveland area)
Session IV: Wednesday, February 16, 2022 (joint remote delivery with First Ring Student Leadership students from Cleveland area)
Session V: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 (in-person in Columbus area with First Ring Student Leadership students)
Session VI: Thursday, April 14, 2022 (remote delivery)
Session VII: Tuesday, May 10, 2022 (in-person final session in Columbus area)

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 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 district research the nature, causes, and potential solutions to a social justice issue that’s
important to them 
• In May, students present their solutions through a capstone and oral presentation to their district’s leadership teams

Year 2: Moving to Action

Year 1 students move on to Year 2 as 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
• In March, participants can optionally attend a youth research symposium to present their research and project outcomes
• Students may receive Ohio State University undergraduate credit for their work and experience in this program

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

How can the Student Leadership Research Collaborative work for your students? See video highlights and what students had to say about the First Ring Leadership Institute held in Northeast Ohio here