Dr. Brenda Capobianco receives Spencer Grant for research with Kenyan refugees in higher education

Dr. Brenda Capobianco, Professor of Science Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction in Purdue University’s College of Education and Courtesy Faculty in Engineering Education, and Dr. Jennifer DeBoer, Associate Professor in Engineering Education, have received the Spencer Grant supporting their collaborative project examining the role of participatory action research with Kenyan refugees as co-researchers. 

Spencer Grants are awarded to researchers that produce rigorous, intellectually ambitious, and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education. These grants value work that fosters creative and open-minded scholarship, engages in deep inquiry, and examines robust questions related to education, as well as research that may also have a lasting impact on policymaking, practice, or educational discourse.  

Dr. Capobianco’s research examines the critical gaps in meeting a variety of needs among Kenyan refugees in higher education. To address these gaps, Dr. Capobianco in collaboration with Dr. DeBoer and her team propose to employ participatory action research as refugee co-researchers take leadership and apply action-oriented research yielding equitable and sustainable outcomes for their respective communities.

This project leverages results from a proof-of-concept study conducted throughout the past two years where refugees were trained to conduct educational action research on their own practice of learning to teach engineering among secondary students. Dr. Capobianco anticipates this project will allow researchers to promote expertise in the core properties of connected learning within their communities in Kenya.

Dr. Capobianco says, “Little research has been done on the learning experience, impact, and generation of new knowledge among members of Kenya’s refugee camps. This project positions the refugees themselves as drivers of research within their own fragile community. By building on an established relationship and existing leadership on the part of the Kakuma refugees as researchers, the research team will create a new team among refugees from Dabaab as co-researchers and develop a novel approach through connected learning that has the potential to cultivate learning and transform the lives of millions of tertiary-based refugees – a hallmark of the Spencer Foundation.”

Learn more about Dr. Brenda Capobianco: https://www.education.purdue.edu/faculty-profiles/name/brenda-capobianco/

Learn more about the Spencer Foundation: https://www.spencer.org/research-grants

Writer: Katie Cockerill, kcockeri@purdue.edu

Source: Dr. Brenda Capobianco, bcapo@purdue.edu, (765) 494-9635