Historically, Indian Education has focused on the assimilation of Native people and the annihilation of American Indian languages and cultures. The Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act of 1975 has allowed tribes some autonomy with regard to educational practices on reservations. Nonetheless, with two-thirds of American Indians not living on reservations, many American Indian students are in classrooms where there is little or no understanding of the deep, rich cultural background from which they come. Traditional American Indian cultures, transmitted by language, spirituality, and kinship systems, continue to thrive both on and off reservations.
This study, a phenomenological approach to qualitative research, uses elements of the Dunn and Dunn learning styles model to examine learning style preference as perceived by four students who identified themselves as American Indian according to PL 107-110 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Title VII, section 7117 guidelines and are Oceti Sakowin. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews that used a series of open-ended questions provided an opportunity for the research participants to share their experiences, thoughts, feelings, observations, and perceptions regarding the way in which they learn most efficiently.
Despite a wide range of aptitude and interest among the American Indian middle school students who participated in this phenomenological study, analysis of the interview data identified five themes that all held in common. First, students prefer to process information reflectively, needing time to consider a question before proffering an answer. Second, information presented visually provides opportunities for students to learn and retain new and difficult material most efficiently. Third, when visual material is reinforced through tactile/kinesthetic pathways, learning is increased. Fourth, working with a trusted partner, rather than alone, with a group of students, or with an adult, provides the best opportunity for academic success and social interaction. Finally, American Indian middle school students are task persistent and motivated to do well. As schools begin to understand and attend to the deep, rich cultural background from which American Indian students come, and accommodate learning style preference, students become confident and motivated to succeed.
|Advisor:||Youngbauer, Vincent W.|
|Commitee:||Baron, Mark A., Cheeseman (Maajiiange), Gary W., Gapp, Susan C.|
|School:||University of South Dakota|
|Department:||Curriculum & Instruction|
|School Location:||United States -- South Dakota|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Middle School education, Multicultural Education, Native American studies|
|Keywords:||American Indian, Culture, Learning style, Middle school, Oceti Sakowin, Phenomenology|
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