This project establishes a new strategic alliance, the Strengthening Native American Access to the Professoriate (SNAAP) program that will research activities to improve STEM doctoral degree completion and access to academic careers for Native American STEM students in the Great Basin and Great Plains regions of the United States. All located in EPSCoR states, the program?s partner institutions, Idaho State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Lewis-Clark State College (ID), Black Hills State University (SD), and Little Big Horn College (MT), are geographically situated and have relationships that position them to serve tribes in the Great Basin region of Idaho and neighboring states and the Great Plains region of South Dakota and neighboring states. The SNAAP program will greatly expand the geographic impact of the NSF AGEP program in the upper Midwest and Intermountain West, as it capitalizes on historic ties among Native American tribes in this East-West corridor. Funded initially through an AGEP planning grant, SNAAP will lay the foundation for a larger program that fulfills the broader goals of AGEP. Ultimately, the alliance aims to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce, by developing innovative models to recruit Native American doctoral students, mentor these students to doctoral degree completion, and place graduates who desire an academic career in STEM faculty positions. The planning grant is a necessary step to reaching these goals and will enable the alliance?s members to forge stronger links so that current relationships are formalized into a lasting alliance. In this way, the schools will develop methods for communicating and working together effectively to support each institution?s continuing pursuit of shared SNAAP goals. In addition, planning grant activities will focus on developing innovative models (within and across institutions) to recruit, mentor, and retain Native American doctoral students and assist graduates as they begin academic careers in STEM disciplines. Finally, to foster program sustainability, alliance members will prepare and submit, in July 2011, a second AGEP proposal that, if funded, will enable the SNAAP program to implement its models under the cycle of full AGEP grants beginning in October 2011. Intellectual Merit. The project assumes that the most effective recruitment and mentoring programs are those that situate scientific inquiry and instruction within the ways of knowing that all students, including Native American students, bring to higher education. Researchers from a variety of disciplines have examined the methods, effects, and importance of connecting STEM-based knowledge to cultural knowledge. Whether viewed from the perspective of education (Hainline, Gaines, Long Feather, Padilla, & Terry, 2010; Tsui, 2007), sociology (Latour, 2004), economics/forestry (Trosper, 2007), or anthropology and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge [TEK] movement (Nadasdy, 1999, 2003), researchers agree that dominant Western knowledge is itself ?encapsulated within social institutions and worldviews? (Trosper, 2007, p. 2). Researchers contend that to better understand how cultural knowledge enables or hinders discovery in the STEM disciplines, we must explore the ways that non-Western knowledge systems connect to or diverge from the dominant Western tradition and how, if at all, we can ?bridge or combine? these ?knowledge areas? (Trosper, 2007, p. 2). SNAAP will address these issues and add to the literature of the field and the body of successful practices for connecting STEM learning and research to culture. Broader Impacts. The proposed SNAAP alliance aims to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce, by developing innovative models to recruit Native American doctoral students, mentor these students to doctoral degree completion, and place graduates who desire an academic career in STEM faculty positions both within and beyond the Great Basin and Great Plains. Through its planning activities, SNAAP will lay the foundation for a lasting program that fulfills the broader goals of AGEP. Funded by AGEP, SNAAP will provide a geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged region the chance to develop the resources needed to bring more Native American students into doctoral education and the professoriate. Finally, when fully implemented, SNAAP will foster a generation of Native American faculty who will serve as role models for future Native American STEM students. Perhaps more than any other aspect of the program, this new STEM faculty will perpetuate the work of SNAAP for generations to come and ensure that Native American students, their communities, and society as a whole reap the benefits of a vital and diverse STEM workforce.

Project Report

(SNAAP), partnered several institutions of higher education to plan accessible STEM graduate education for Native Americans in the Great Basin and Great Plains regions of the United States (U.S.). Idaho State University (ISU) served as the lead institution with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) serving as the primary partner university. Also included in the alliance were the predominately undergraduate institution, Black Hills State University (BHSU) in Spearfish, SD, and the two-year college Lewis Clark State College (LCSC) in Lewiston, Idaho. Research shows that the number of Native Americans going into graduate STEM education and on to an academic career in STEM is lower than for any other minority group. To facilitate a successful plan to increase the number of Native Americans going into the STEM professoriate, the SNAAP alliance investigated development of innovative models to recruit Native American doctoral students, mentor these students to doctoral degree completion, and place graduates who desire an academic career in STEM faculty positions both within and beyond the Great Basin and Great Plains. This grant was for planning purposes, not actual project implementation. As such, the project focused on creating stronger connections among the four schools in the alliance. For example, ISU coordinated interactions among the four schools and sought to locate respected community liaisons who could help establish communication between alliance partners and local and regional Native American tribes. In turn, for a number of years, SDSMT has implemented educational support programs for Native American students from high school through undergraduate degrees and, thus, SDSMT provided a wealth of knowledge to the other institutions as the planning progressed. Finally, BHSU and LCSC were instrumental in helping other alliance partners understand the obstacles Native American STEM students face before they can even begin graduate education, at the undergraduate level where enrollment, support, and retention are critical concerns. During the term of the planning grant, several planning projects were completed. First, in 2011, each SNAAP alliance school collected demographic data related to numbers of Native Americans and other underrepresented minorities (URMs) in Idaho and South Dakota and numbers of Native American and other URM students (STEM and non-STEM; doctoral, master’s, undergraduate) at alliance schools. In spring of 2012, another round of data collection began, which focused on collecting expanded data beyond that collected during the previous award cycle (2011-2012). The expanded data will provide a richer source of baseline data for future AGEP Solicitations as well as a fuller demographic picture of Native Americans and other URMs pursuing graduate STEM degrees in Idaho and South Dakota. In addition to collecting demographic data, alliance partners distributed surveys to project stakeholders, defined as those individuals and groups who would benefit from the project. Tribal leadership, Native American students, and Native-owned businesses were among the groups surveyed to find out what services and support Native Americans regard as important as Native American students begin and complete higher education, including graduate school. These findings can be used in developing future, larger AGEP projects focused on Native American STEM education. As the SNAAP planning project evolved, the alliance’s doctoral-granting institutions, ISU and SDSMT, explored Transformative Graduate Education, an innovative curriculum designed to increase graduate student retention and success. Finally, a thorough review of the literature was completed by investigators at SDSMT related to academic programs that support Native American/American Indian (NA/AI) students’ enrollment in graduate programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. Also included in the review was discussion of different recruitment and retention strategies. Taken together, these planning activities have provided additional information to SNAAP alliance schools and other colleges and universities that can be used in developing programs to increase the number of successful Native American students who earn graduate STEM degrees and begin careers in the STEM professoriate or professions.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1111231
Program Officer
Mark H. Leddy
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-05-15
Budget End
2014-04-30
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$140,897
Indirect Cost
Name
Idaho State University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Pocatello
State
ID
Country
United States
Zip Code
83209