An independent co-ed day school for grades Pre K-12


CSBGL at UPenn

The Center for the Study of Boys and Girls Lives (CSBGL) is a consortium of independent schools based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. GFA was recently invited to join the group, which will give students the opportunity to engage in studying and improving our school’s culture through youth participatory action research (YPAR).

Partnering with research assistants and faculty at UPenn, seven GFA students will work together to identify researchable and actionable topics of relevance to them. They learn the qualitative research techniques used in social science and conduct inquiry according to accepted protocols, recommending actions and changes based on their findings.

Student involvement in the group is completely voluntary, and while they will learn best practices for research and gain experience in public speaking, students will not receive course credit. The students will meet with faculty once a week during a free period, and have signed up for this research project because they truly want to make a difference.

"I decided to be a part of this project because there is always an opportunity to get better," said sophomore Hannah Kozdeba. "In this case we are trying to better GFA and the lives of all of the students. Even though our school life at GFA is already outstanding, there are always little things that can be improved, therefore I would like to make that little change possible to make life for students at school and life at GFA even better."

Leading the students in this endeavor is GFA Director of Diversity and Community Kristjiana Gong, who will be joined by eight GFA faculty members from a various departments; together they will help the students narrow down topics and conduct their research.

Ms. Gong said: "Participating in this promotes the aspect of partnership we're striving for with students and teachers. It indicates to students that we respect their opinions and thoughts and that they have a voice."

Head of School Janet Hartwell will sit on the CSBGL Board of Directors alongside the leaders of the other member schools. She hopes that this partnership will reinforce GFA's dedication to character building and student voice.  "I am very excited that we are doing this. I believe our students will benefit, as will our whole community," she said.

Some projects member schools have taken on are:

  • Greenwich Academy: "The use of social media and self-confidence"

  • The Haverford School: "The prevalence of bullying and teasing and the way boys adapt to it in their daily life at school."

  • Georgetown Day School: "The politics of space on the high school campus"

  • The Dwight Englewood School: "What school-based factors influence student success in 8th through 12th grade?"

  • Miss Porter's School: "A study of socio-economic status: how girls perceive it, and how it affects relationships at school."

  • University School: "How do different racial groups experience diversity at University School?"

  • The Shipley School: "What are the sources of stress at Shipley and how do they work for different populations?"

  • St. Paul's School: "The culture of romantic relationships on the St. Paul’s campus: Is there a lack of honest dialogue on the subject?"

  • Lawrenceville School: "The costs involved in a 'tutoring culture,' how much tutoring was happening, in what subjects, for what reasons, and how it pertains to gender, race, class, ethnicity, and age."

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