Through efforts of TCUP I and II, the foundation is now in place at Chief Dull Knife College for taking the next steps in conducting more sophisticated and nuanced research that will assess the impact of the expanded and improved learning opportunities offered to CDKC students in math and science. This research proposal responds to the call by Trowler (2005) for improved research on higher education reforms that reveal how specific innovations relate to particular teaching and learning contexts. The development of data sources and instruments for documenting student progress and for TCUP project assessments has created a unique opportunity now to conduct research that has not been possible before. The research capability development will include the creation of a database that incorporates and coordinates all the existing data sources and the establishment of procedures for accessing relevant data to address research questions about STEM programs and their impacts on students. Database development will draw on multiple data sources and will allow a wide range of questions to be addressed with a variety of statistical techniques. The approach used for developing and addressing research questions will incorporate the central principles of the Indigenous Evaluation framework, an approach to research on and evaluation of American Indian education and other programs developed by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) with support from the National Science Foundation (LaFrance and Nichols 2010). For this project, the research approach makes central the values and interests of groups most concerned with the academic achievement of CDKC students and relationship to the Northern Cheyenne community. It also builds on prior sociological research on Northern Cheyenne secondary school completion (Ward 2005) that identified individual, family, school and community as particularly relevant influences.
Broader Impacts: This research program represents important questions related to American Indian tribal college student retention and completion in relation to STEM that moves well beyond any analyses to date on Northern Cheyenne college students. It also fills gaps in understandings about the processes that contribute to student outcomes in a tribal college setting that is both unique and relevant to other higher education settings. It will create the basis for addressing how relationships with local and regional institutions and the research opportunities they offer impact students and faculty. Additionally, the capabilities resulting from this project provide for sharing and disseminating research results to educators at other tribal colleges and higher education institutions who have similar concerns about and interests in creating more effective STEM learning opportunities for American Indian and other minority students.