Expanding Research Approaches in Underserved Communities

By Jaime Humberto Garcia and Patrick H. Smith.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 6, 2015 $US5.00

Colonias are unincorporated neighborhoods found in the southwest US that may lack services such as potable water, electricity, and/or paved streets. In preparing a literature review of colonias for a manuscript, we found that most research conducted was survey research in the areas of health and infrastructure. Research was conducted on colonias and their residents with little consultation with participants. Research we conducted with children and youth in one colonia used photovoice and oral history for data collection. This led to a very different portrait of a colonia and resulted in a discussion of the influence of data collection methods on research results. We argue that any work in colonias need to begin by engaging community members in the design of any research project. Research in colonias and similar communities can benefit from participatory action research methods to uncover data that is lost when the researcher is unfamiliar with the workings of a community. We suggest that the inclusion of colonia residents is essential in ensuring that results of research in these communities are sound. We discuss practices that can enhance research in colonias and similar communities.

Keywords: Underserved Communities, Participatory Research

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.19-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 6, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 339.378KB)).

Dr. Jaime Humberto Garcia

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, The University of Texas at Brownsville, Brownsville, TX, USA

Dr. Patrick H. Smith

Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA