Date of Award:

5-2003

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

James Barta

Abstract

This dissertation examined personal, cultural, school, and family factors that contribute to the decision of Native American students to remain in school until graduation or to drop out. One hundred eighty-one participants who had either graduated or dropped out of school completed a 140-item questionnaire. Participants lived on the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation located at Fort Hall, Idaho.

Factors examined in the survey instrument included substance abuse by self or family members, peer pressure, trouble with the law, self-esteem, teen pregnancy, family structure, socioeconomic status, parents education, academic achievement, teacher attitudes and expectations, school attendance, tribal self-identity and pride, and bilingualism. This research was based on the assumption that issues and processes in Native American education must be addressed by Native people themselves in order for positive change to occur. In addition, the research looked for factors that seem to keep Native Americans in school.

The analysis suggested that respondents who were at a higher risk of dropping out of school had a negative self-attitude, frequently skipped school, and had negative attitudes about their teachers' expectations. These results differed significantly from those of Native Americans who had positive self-attitudes, positive attitudes about their teachers' expectations, and positive family influences. Themes of poverty, self-esteem, and teacher attitudes repeatedly surfaced. Graduates frequently reported that positive family expectations (including teachers) kept them in school.

This dissertation provides important information for those involved in Native American education. In addition, this dissertation brings together the views of the Native American, specifically the Shoshone-Bannock people, in the journey of education. Together, the review of literature and data collected on the Shoshone-Bannock Indian reservation provide a valuable resource for teachers, parents , and community members now involved, or soon to be involved, in Native American education.

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