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Faculty Research Funding Initiative (FRFI)

Drexel University School of Education

The SoE Faculty Research Funding Initiative provides seed funding to SoE Faculty members through a competitive application process each year with the intention of enabling faculty to establish and then scale their research agendas. Faculty may partner with school districts and colleagues or across Drexel to pilot new research projects aimed at advancing the field of education while contributing to the local educational ecosystem.

How to Apply for a Faculty Research Grant

The call for applications occurs in May of each year. Applicants should demonstrate that the proposed projects are germane to the current mission and strategic vision of the School of Education, and that the seed grants will contribute to the publication of findings in discipline appropriate journals and/or books. The funded projects should also have the potential for raising the research profile of the School of Education, both within and outside of Drexel University.

The funds may be used for the following:

  • Materials
  • Software
  • Equipment
  • Student research assistant time
  • Travel to research sites1
  • Other non-salary materials or activities (data transformation e.g. transcriptions & analysis)

Funds may not be used for dissemination activities such as traveling to conferences, publication costs, etc. Funds may not be used for faculty salary. Professional development funds are more appropriately used for these costs.

Review Process

Applications are systematically reviewed and evaluated by the SoE Research Committee and the Associate Dean for Research using the “Research Initiative Funding Evaluation” rubric with awards administered in June. 

2021 FRFI Grantees

E-Learning Institutional Capacity Building (EICB) Project

Project led by: 

  • Constance Fox Lyttle, PhD, JD, Clinical Professor School of Education
  • Fran Cornelius, PhD, Clinical Professor; College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Maboh M. Nkwati, PhD (Essex), FAIMER Fellow (PA-USA)

This E-Learning Institutional Capacity Building (EICB) Project is Phase 4 of the Strengthening University E-Learning Capacity: A Train the Trainer Project for Higher Education Institutions in Cameroon initiative, which was initially supported by a grant awarded by the United States Embassy in Cameroon. The original partners included Drexel University (CNHP), Biaka University Institute of Buea, and Health Research Foundation Buea, with the goal to build capacity in online learning for administrative and academic staff of Higher Education Institutions in the Southwest Region of Cameroon Africa. The Phase 1 training program started January 4 and ended in April 2021 with successful participants from nine Higher Education Institutions. The goals were to:

  1. Train faculty on developing content for online learning using best practice guidelines
  2. Provide advisory support to faculty in the implementation of online education in one course
  3. Train program and school administrators in developing and implementing appropriate policies for online education within the institution
  4. Establish an online education community of practice.

During this first 8 weeks of the program, all participants (administrative and academic staff) participated in a modified version of ‘Essentials for Online Teaching’ as an online introductory professional development course and experienced online learning from a student perspective, while being introduced to the pedagogy of online teaching.

After completing the ‘Essentials Course,’ participants, with a solid beginning understanding of the best practices of online teaching and learning, were separated into two groups, for Phase 2 (March 1-April 15).

  • Group I: The faculty learned how to design and deliver online courses using best practice standards and guidelines, and how to support student learning in an online course. In this Phase, Drexel faculty served as mentors/coaches as a critical component to the online course development and design instruction participants received.
  • Group II: Administrative staff gained basic knowledge of online education management and acquire skills to develop and implement appropriate policies and infrastructure support for online education within their respective institutions.

Our Graduation Ceremony was held May 17, 2021.

The Phase 3 sustained community of practice was recently launched and, beginning fall 2021,
Phase 4 will begin with the SoE Faculty Research Funding Initiative 2021-2022 seed monies. During this Phase, we will analyze the considerable quantitative and qualitative data gathered in Phases 1 and 2, and conduct follow-up interviews of each Project participant, all of whom shared their participation was a transformative experience, and each is enthusiastic about continuing to serve in the Project. In addition, there has been considerable interest communicated from other Cameroon institutions of higher education and nearby countries.

With such heightened interest in this innovative approach to building e-learning capacity in under-resourced areas that have a great need to make higher education more accessible; the results of this data analysis will support numerous opportunities for international presentations and consultation and future funding requests.

Promise Neighborhood Summer Bridge to Kindergarten Program

Project led by:

  • Dr. Vera Lee
  • Dr. Jen Katz-Buonincontro
  • Katie A. Mathew
  • Cory Johnson
  • Jordan Wilson
  • Andrea DiMola
  • Erikka Gilliam
  • Matthew Jannetti
  • Adena Klem

This pilot program is being offered to rising Kindergarteners living in the Promise Neighborhood to support their literacy, numeracy and social emotional development. The research study that will also serve to evaluate the program, will explore whether the interpretation of a standard curriculum through creative pedagogy has an impact on students’ literacy, numeracy, social emotional and divergent thinking outcomes. The goals of the study are also to understand the ways in which children’s readiness skills can be improved through a creative pedagogical approach and through children’s experiences in the program.

Previous Faculty Research Projects 

2020 FRFI Grantees

A Narrative Analysis of the Long-term Impacts of The Academy of Natural Sciences’ Women in Natural Science (WINS) Program

Project led by:

  • Dr. Ayana Allen-Handy
  • Dr. Jacqueline Genovesi
  • Ague Mae Manonsong
  • Kimberly Sterin

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (ANS) Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) is a 39-year old program that has served over 900 underrepresented Philadelphia girls since its inception in 1982. A Narrative Analysis of the Long-term Impacts of The Academy of Natural Sciences’ Women in Natural Science (WINS) Program pilot study aims to conduct a narrative analysis of the long-term impacts of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program on the lived experiences and life stories of its alumnae.

Transitioning to Remote and Online Teaching During COVID-19

Project led by:

  • Dr. Kristy Kelly
  • Kathlyn Elliott
  • Yiyun (Kate) Fan
  • Katie Mathew
  • David Mattson

The purpose of this research is to understand the experiences of teachers involved in moving to online teaching during the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Via a mixed-methods research design, this study specifically aims to answer the following questions:

  • How do educators navigate the challenges of transitioning to online teaching during a crisis?
  • What resources do educators draw on - professionally and personally - in the process of transitioning?
  • What do educators learn in the process and how does this affect their long-term understandings of teaching and learning? 

2019 FRFI Grantees

Strategies for Elite Transformation: Educational aspirations, motivations, and transnational schooling experiences in China

Project led by Jennifer Adams, EdD

This project investigates the northwestern Chinese city Chengdu’s diverse institutional, socio-cultural, family, and student factors that condition parental and student motivations for enrollment in American curriculum centers via survey design, international field work, survey pre-testing and data collection.

Surveying Early Childhood Educators About Nurturing Children’s Spirituality

Project led by Michael Haslip, PhD

Dr. Haslip with colleagues Jen Mata-McMahon and Deb Schein are conducting a multi-year research project to investigate how early childhood educators might be nurturing children’s spirituality in their educational settings with a survey based on a literature review about the best ways to nurture children’s spirituality.

Exploring School, Community, and Family Engagement Efforts with Parents of English Learners in Philadelphia Public Schools

Project led by Vera J. Lee, EdD and Kristine Lewis Grant, PhD

With colleague Barbara Hoekje, Drs. Lee and Grant will explore current school family community partnerships across several Philadelphia public schools by collecting data (focus groups, interviews, field notes) from a sample group of public K-8 schools with a high number of English Language Learners, key school district office staff, school administrators, ESL lead teachers/program directors, and multilingual parents/caregivers.

2018 FRFI Grantees

Preserving History/Persistent Legacy: A Historical Ethnography of an African American Urban High School in Philadelphia

Project led by Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD

This Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project explores and documents the rich history of Hopewell High School which has served as a pillar of the Black community since the early 1950s using qualitative oral histories, archival document analysis such as historical maps, Census data, policy reports, and social media outlets, as well as artifacts such as yearbooks.

Facilitating 21st century knowledge, skills, and motivation to learn through STEAMulating play-based experiences in informal settings

Project led by Aroutis Foster, PhD

This project examined the design and impact of Invent with Environment, a maker course developed and implemented collaboratively with educators at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education to facilitate ~30 middle and high school Latinx students’ identity exploration in environmental science career roles with post-doctoral scholar Mamta Shah.

Diversified Mentoring and Intersectionality in Leadership Development: Breaking through the Double bind faced by Minority Women in STEM

Project led by Rajashi Ghosh, PhD

The phenomenological study explores the role of mentoring and diversified mentoring in the leadership development journeys of minoritized women leaders in higher education STEM disciplines through an examination of their lived experiences, completed with PhD student Ague Manonsong.

Intentional Conceptual Shift Through Cooperative Controversy Activities

Project led by Penny Hammrich, PhD

Dr. Hammrich revisited her work on the nature of science to replicate a study with Teacher Education students determining whether extending the cooperative controversy activity over a period of two months (without extending the on-task time) and integrating intentional reflective activities has an impact on the degree and nature of conceptual shift (with PhD students at that time Jessica Cellitti and Jonan Donaldson).