Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Edward Bennett

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Participatory Action Research Learning (PARL) is both a logical and effective tool for addressing the issue of violence against women who have developmental challenges. Lack of power and lack of credibility have been identified as two important risk factors that make women with challenges more vulnerable to violence. Research that aims to address issues of violence and abuse therefore must also address issues of power and credibility. In this document I describe how a group of stakeholders, including four women who have developmental challenges, worked together on a project to create resources for prevention of, and education about, violence against women who have developmental challenges. The relationship between researchers and participants is a key element that distinguishes PARL from other research methods. I have identified specific strategies for effective collaboration in stakeholder groups that are made up of people who have differing backgrounds, personalities, and social power. An equitable relationship between group members based upon mutual respect is the foundation of PARL. Strategies for developing a good working relationship include: developing principles for working together; taking time for reflection and discussion; creating a safe, welcoming environment for everyone; clarifying roles and agendas of group members; respecting individual differences and individual needs; and including time for social interaction (tor example, celebrations and food). It is also helpful to use tools such as icebreakers and the “round robin” method of eliciting feedback in order to facilitate the participation of everyone in the group. When professionals, people with challenges, and others from the community engage in PARL mutual empowerment occurs. People with challenges are empowered to participate in meaningful activities in their communities, and community members and professionals are empowered to work in a collaborative way with people who have challenges.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons