Shipley Students Present Research in Collaboration with University of Pennsylvania

On April 24, 2022, three groups of Shipley’s Upper School students presented research at a roundtable presentation of the Student Participatory Action Research Collaboration (SPARC). “Our students were passionate, thorough, confident, and genuinely enthusiastic about their research topics,” said student advisor and Shipley’s Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sheri Rider Jobe.

SPARC is a research consortium among faculty and students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and school leaders, faculty, and students at a cohort of leading independent schools. The purpose of the collaboration is to systematically mobilize student insights and voices to improve school culture, policy, and practice. Shipley has a long history of participating in SPARC and is one of the original members of the consortium.

This action research works in association with University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education to allow students to learn about research by examining something that needs to be improved or changed at Shipley and then to develop action steps to bring about this improvement or change. Students develop research questions, create ways to gather data (surveys, focus groups, interviews), analyze the data, and then implement change through action steps. 
The topics are of the student’s choosing. The students in the groups conduct both quantitative and qualitative research to look at the issues they select. Congratulations to this year’s SPARC groups for their impressive work!
Group 1: Peyton Turner ’22 and Nancy Qianyi Yang ’22
Topic: Interminority Racism in Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs)
Explore interminority racism and the increased competition, academically and socially, between minorities in predominantly white institutions (e.g., model minority myth). We would also like to acknowledge the lack of intersectional activism among minorities and the tension this creates (e.g., comparing holocaust vs. slavery). Finally, we also want to explore how some minorities have begun to uphold ideas related to white supremacy. 
Group 2: Qiyue [Amber] Feng ’24 and Srijan Velamuri ’23
Topic: Race in Shipley’s Curriculum and Classroom
Investigate whether the curriculum at The Shipley School has properly addressed the inclusion of diverse racial groups, what students’ opinions are on how DEI topics are taught, and how race influences the classroom dynamic. We will accomplish this both through a generalized view of the curriculum and specific case studies of one history and one English course.

Group 3: Olive Smith ’23, Aisling Smith ’23, Ruby Flynn ’23, and Olivia Trachtenberg ’23 
Topic: Gender Bias within School Programs
How gender plays a role in extracurricular disciplines, like the arts and athletic programs, and how the school culture values these disciplines.
Goal: To use data collection to support the theory that gender bias influences budget discrepancy within the arts and athletic departments.

Group 4*: Jenny Qu ’22  and Anne Gu ’25 
Topic: To understand how to better design classes in school to help students from different academic backgrounds and perspectives to feel included (gender studies, history, math?).

*This group did not present in the symposium.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.