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Undergraduate college student's attitudes toward Native Americans and their Native studies course experiences: a critical mixed methods study

Date

2012

Authors

Brantmeier, Noorjehan Kelsey, author
Jennings, Louise B., advisor
Gloeckner, Gene W., advisor
Lynham, Susan A., committee member
Vernon, Irene, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Abstract

This mixed method study seeks to understand the attitudes of predominately White or Euro-American students enrolled in a Native studies course as measured by the Political and Racial Attitudes Toward Native Americans (PRATNA) Scale and the Color-blind Racial Attitudes Scale (COBRAS). Quantitatively, the study seeks to understand attitudes toward Native Americans as measured by a newly adapted attitudinal scale and qualitatively the study seeks to understand student's experiences of taking a Native studies course and what they learn or unlearn through the process. The use of mixed research methods provides a more complex and nuanced understanding of student's attitudes and experiences in the course. Epistemologically, the study is grounded in a complementary fusion of critical/transformative/Indigenous paradigms which seeks to "express and illuminate some of the vexing issues" of our times, "transform systems of oppression" and serve the needs of Indigenous communities (Merriam, 1991; Mertens, 2010; Hart 2010). The study is also informed by Tribal Critical Race Theory (an offshoot of Critical Race Theory) and provides a valuable framework for understanding the role Native studies courses play in deconstructing dominant narratives regarding the lives, histories, and experiences of Native people. Currently, there is not an available measure that accounts for Native American's liminal status as both political and racial beings. Additionally, there are few studies that research predominately White student's attitudes toward Native Americans and their perceptions from an Indigenous perspective based on a review of the literature. The findings from the mixed method study suggest that quantitatively, there were statistically significant differences between undergraduate college student's pre and post-PRATNA scores (p =.001), between students who have taken Native studies courses in the past and those who have not (p =.028), and between students who have taken past cultural diversity courses and those who have not (p =0.47). The qualitative findings suggest that three overarching themes can be constructed around the experience and process of taking Native American studies courses: 1) Learning and Unlearning: Past, Present, and Future; 2) Awareness, Emotion, and Moving Toward Action; and 3) Locus of Change. Students seem to move through the themes as a continuum, or do not, based on personal and educational factors. The appropriateness of mixed methods was discussed to explicate the ways both quantitative and qualitative data strengthened this study, and allowed for nuances to be seen that would be neglected by the use of one method alone. Lastly, the emergent finding of students' experiences participating in distance focus groups was explored to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the method.

Description

2012 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.

Rights Access

Subject

general diversity requirements
mixed methods
Native American studies
racial attitudes
undergraduate college students

Citation

Associated Publications