College Fund Research

Dissertation – The experiences of American Indian students regarding their perceptions of postsecondary education at a tribal community college in the Midwest

April 1, 2015

The problem addressed in this qualitative study is the need to improve American Indian students’ persistence college. The focus of this research was to understand the ways in which the life experiences of 12 American Indian students influenced their persistence in a tribal college. By using a descriptive case study approach, qualitative data were collected from 12 on-site interviews and institutional academic documents. Interview data were validated with methodological triangulation protocols that employed inductive and typological analysis techniques. Case study documentation was analyzed through interpretive analysis. Findings point to the need to establish a level of engagement between instructors and students because instructors play such a vital role in students’ success. The results identified 4 themes that encapsulated and defined the roles that faculty, family members, college location, and resources of the college play in contributing to the persistence of American Indian students. Suggested future studies include investigating the economic impact that this Midwestern tribal community college has had on not only the tribal community but also the adjacent communities and to replicate this study with non-Native students to compare results. Quantifiable data were produced that might strengthen the need for tribal colleges and universities.

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