Subjective realities of American Indian students in an urban community college setting: A Tohono O'Odham case study.
AuthorViri, Denis Francis.
AdvisorRhodes, Gary D.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a public community college on American Indian students in terms of their goals, aspirations, and persistence. These effects are fundamental to understanding attrition and the low transfer and completion rates of American Indians and other minorities in community colleges. The study was conducted as a case study in an urban community college in the Southwest. Seven individual case studies were embedded in the larger study. Data were obtained through weekly interviews and followup of students who dropped-out. Goodenough's cognitive theory of culture served as the theoretical basis for the study. Spradley's typology of question format, which is intended to generate the categories into which individuals divide their cultural knowledge, was used to determine cultural perceptions and related changes that occurred over time. None of the students completed the programs in which they had enrolled. A main finding was that the students perceived the community college as a way to disassociate themselves from social problems that marginalize Indian people and engender stereotypes. However, the culture that was produced at the college discounted the students' sense of competence and reinforced a sense of marginalization they were attempting to overcome. The students possessed a wide variety of background experiences, but maintained a deep structure of internal values and expectations associated with their unique Indian heritage and experience. These combined over time with the patterns and meanings of the institution, creating situational arrhythmia which frustrated the students' expectations, aspirations, and life tasks. Significant issues that arose included: (1) The acquisition of meaningful experience; (2) a lack of a sense of a supportive environment; (3) preferred ways of learning, (4) conflicts between institutional and personal priorities and (5) negative and regressive effects of the "deficit model" in remedial education. Community colleges are unaware of the actual effects that they have on culturally diverse students. They should become "culturally literate" and adopt policies and practice policies which will allow them to extend beyond the inherent ethnocentrism they now embody. In matching equal access with equality of outcomes, this study suggests that community colleges must consider significant changes and innovations.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration