Holding the doors open: Faculty perspectives of their roles in the retention of American Indian students

2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this research was to explore faculty perspectives of their roles in the retention of American Indian (AI) students at three postsecondary institutions. Previous research had documented the important role that faculty members have in retention of AI students. However faculty perspectives of the issues faced by AI students in higher education and faculty roles in retention of AI students had not been explored prior to this study. Using a qualitative multiple case study approach, interviews were conducted with thirty-four faculty members and five administrators at three higher education institutions with an outreach to American Indian students: a four-year tribal college; a small, private liberal arts college; and a public doctoral university.

Participants in this study had a personal understanding of the historical, cultural, socioeconomic, and academic barriers faced by many AI students. Faculty held strong beliefs concerning the impact that faculty members can have on the persistence decisions of individual American Indian students. While participants spoke of pedagogical strategies seen as effective for AI students, most participants emphasized faculty roles related to connecting with students, demonstrating caring, being available and accessible, and creating an environment in which AI students feel welcome and accepted. Faculty perceptions of roles were influenced by multiple factors including personal experiences with American Indian communities or individuals, individual moral values and beliefs, and personal satisfaction with mentoring students as well as organizational culture.

One of the major issues that emerged from this study was the potential conflict between American Indian worldview and the current academic culture. Recommendations for further research include additional study in of the manner in which faculty members and institutions accommodate American Indian student worldview while maintaining academic standards. Further research that explores institutional roles in support and development of faculty roles in retention of American Indian students is also recommended.

Indexing (details)

Bilingual education;
Multicultural education;
School administration;
Native Americans;
Native studies;
Higher education
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education
0514: School administration
0740: Native Americans
0740: Native studies
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Faculty; Indian; Retention
Holding the doors open: Faculty perspectives of their roles in the retention of American Indian students
Sherwin, Stacey A.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 68/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Bryant, Miles
Committee member
Creswell, John W.; Grady, Marilyn L.; Hoover, Richard E.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Educational Administration
University location
United States -- Nebraska
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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