Factors that Impede Participation

  • Racism:
    • Sub-oppression
    • Oppression
    • economic disparities
    • misuse of federal dollars,
    • cultural leaders being ignored
  • Resources:
    • Money
    • Getting help (financial and other) that is available at the global level accessible at the local level (for example, knowing what is out there; knowing how to bring resources to the local community)
    • Lack of Role Models
    • Lack of exposure to STEM during K-12 years
    • Lack of infrastructural support:  Child care, jobs
  • Academic Issues:
    • Students don’t know how to apply to academic programs.
    • Lack of access to computers or not understanding how to apply on line keeps students out of academic programs and internships
    • Paperwork of application process is intimidating
    • Don’t understand what a bio is
    • Application processes are often too expensive
    • Students don’t understand financial aid process
    • Students are intimidated by the essay that is often required on applications
    • Don’t know about scholarships
    • Criteria keep students out:  GPA, Tribal membership
    • Lack of excellent geoscience teachers/instructors in the local community.
    • Lack of recognition of students as a potential source of STEM students
    • Mathematics aren’t taught in a way that works for native students (more beneficial when taught visually or hands-on)
    • Mathematics are taught too abstractly; more applications would help
    • Math example:  school failing 50% of students in Math
    • Math is a gatekeeping class
    • Problem:  Math by mathematicians
    • Teaching styles vs Native learning styles
    • Fragmented curriculum, scheduling, and standards
    • Lack of individualized instruction:  all people are taught in the same way but some people have different learning styles
    • Students aren’t academically ready for college when they come out of high school.
    • Science classes are boring—they could be made more interesting if they were more relevant to the students (good example of relevance is sustainability program at College of Menominee Nation)
    • Students aren’t aware of possibilities and opportunities
    • Lack of confidence in quantitative science
    • Fragmentation of curriculum and lack of connection between disciplines (due to testing requirements)
    • Middle school doesn’t have earth science (or not enough)
    • Students’ stereotypes of math and science:  they are not smart enough; have to be super-intelligent to go into a science field; these careers are dry and boring, no creative side, need to break these myths
  • Difficulties if students need to move:
    • Children who need care
    • Don’t feel comfortable in the city
    • Difficulty in transferring from tribal college to other institution
    • Hard to be away from home
    • Hard to find a place that feels comfortable
    • Knowing that there are other Native students where you are going is important
    • AISES group is really helpful
    • Sometimes leaving the community for education is not an option because of ceremonial reasons
    • It’s hard to participate in internships if you have a family
    • Length of time of internships can also be a problem—it would help if sometimes you could split up the internship into shorter blocks of time or allow students to return home for ceremonies

Attitudes within Native community about science

  • There is the (false) notion that what you are learning has nothing to do with your people (this is not specific to Native American students)
  • Lack of connection to the tribe
  • Students don’t have an idea what comes after college—what will they do with a geoscience degree?
  • Lack of community support
  • Education may be viewed as assimilation into white culture
  • Students struggle to get a degree and then it may be hard to come back into the community
  • Conflicting messages about what education means
  • Pushback from elders/parents
  • Challenge:  feeling used; guilt of leaving family

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