Educational Engagement

Faculty: Briana Nichols, PhD


Project Objectives
  • To understand the barriers and facilitators of family and student engagement in school.
  • To learn about the lasting impacts of COVID on the Guatemalan education system.
  • To examine the relationship between schools and indigenous communities, and the history of education for indigenous Guatemalans.
  • To investigate the role of NGOs in creating improved occupational outcomes in Guatemala through educational, economic, and health-related programs
  • To position access to a dignified education within human rights and social and occupational justice frameworks
Project Activities

The Educational Engagement Project Group will consider How educational practices influence student and family engagement in settings of formal schooling? 

The site of this project will be Kemna’ Oj, a NGO run school located in the Santa Maria de Jesus community outside of Antigua Guatemala.  The school was founded with the belief that education is a “pathway out of poverty” for indigenous Guatemalan youth, and is designed to support the other projects run by the NGO.

The Educational Engagement Project Group will work with a Guatemalan partner organization to explore the ongoing challenges in cultivating meaningful educational engagement between inidgenous youth, their families and educational providers.  Participants will work to analyze factors that serve as barriers to, and facilitate, educational engagement.

Through participant observation, in-depth interviews with educators, students and community members, archival research, and focus groups, we will create a case study about the challenges faced by Keman’ Oj, the methods they have used to resolve those challenges, and the efficacy of those methods.  We will map the actors who are involved in the process and understand the social dynamics that involved in attempts to create a dignified educational experience for community youth.

Key competencies gained will include:  instrument development, in-depth interviewing, ethnographic observation, qualitative data analysis, video and executive report writing. Readings and group discussions will explore the role of NGOs, development programs, and technical assistance in capacity- building, program sustainability, and priority-setting in global public health.

NOTE: Students’ willingness to contribute to the report in the 2-4 weeks following the field school end date is requested, in order to complete the writing, editing, and/or posting of the report.