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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund

Jul 6, 2023 | Press Releases, Research

College Fund Research and Evaluation Associate Publishes Article on Faculty Evaluation Research

Work raises visibility of tribal college faculty evaluation experiences

July 6, 2023, Denver, Colo.—Dr. Kayla Alkire-Stewart (Standing Rock Sioux Nation), who joined the American Indian College Fund as a research and evaluation associate in 2023, published an article about faculty evaluations at tribal colleges and universities in the Tribal College Journal. The article, based on Dr. Alkire-Stewart’s qualitative dissertation research and drawing on an Indigenous Evaluation Framework, focuses on tribal college and university (TCU) faculty experiences with and perspectives on faculty evaluation practices. The work advances knowledge about TCU practices and counters TCU invisibility in higher education research. Dr. Alkire Stewart received a 2022 dissertation fellowship from the College Fund to support the completion of her Ph.D. research on which this article is based.

Education professionals interested in learning more about TCU faculty evaluation practices and the findings of Dr. Alkire-Stewart’s research can read the full qualitative study on the American Indian College Fund’s (the College Fund) research repository.

Dr. Alkire-Stewart said, “One of the key takeaways from this study is that regardless of their experiences with faculty evaluation, TCU faculty have a positive perception of the faculty evaluation process and see it as important and full of potential for their professional development.” This original research shows that prior faculty experiences included lack of continuity between faculty evaluation policies (how the process is described on paper) and practices (how it is implemented). Despite this, TCU faculty stated they appreciate and desire both formal and informal qualitative feedback from students, administrators, and peers as part of faculty evaluation, and in fact, would prefer more frequent opportunities for evaluation, feedback, and reflection to be able to weave that into their instructional practices during the academic year.

These findings illustrate that TCU faculty perceive the faculty evaluation process as integral to their professional development and want to have a voice in the evaluation design and process, especially regarding its framework, approach, and practices.

Findings from this research will be shared back with TCU faculty through the American Indian College Fund’s TCU faculty development program. Dr. Alkire-Stewart will host a sensemaking workshop to discuss FE learnings with TCU faculty to get their input on how to best approach authentic and faculty-driven assessment at TCUs and put this research into practice.

Dr. Kayla Alkire-Stewart brings a wealth of higher education experience to the College Fund. She has nearly a decade of experience as a faculty and staff member at two TCUs and conducted research on faculty experiences at tribal colleges. From 2013 to 2021, she was an English faculty member and first-year student advisor at Sitting Bull College. She then served as a project director of the Monarch Project at United Tribes Technical College, a multi-million-dollar Department of Education-funded grant program focused on expanding educational opportunities for over 500 Indigenous high school students at seven off- and on-reservation partner schools, from 2021-2023.

Dr. Alkire-Stewart is a skilled leader, communicator, and researcher with first-hand experience working with culturally responsive teaching practices at TCUs. She also served as a reviewer on the joint Standing Rock Sioux Tribe/Sitting Bull College Institutional Research Board (IRB) committee. She is particularly interested in qualitative, participatory approaches to research. She earned her Ed.D. in higher education leadership from Maryville University in December 2022.

Dr. Alkire-Stewart lives in Bismarck with her husband and four children. As a former “non-traditional” student who has experienced the transformational power of higher education first-hand, Kayla’s lived experience demonstrates the importance of the College Fund’s mission.

About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 33 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $14.45 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2021-22. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $284 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit  

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund. 

Photo: Dr. Kayla Alkire-Stewart (Standing Rock Sioux Nation). 

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