Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 10-30-2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Brandy Kamm Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Chris Jenkins, Ph.D.

Content Reader

Michael Hollis, Ph.D.


Native American, tribal colleges and universities, STEM, American Indians, science, technology, engineering, math


This qualitative case study explored the experiences of 13 Native American higher education students attending a Tribal College and University (TCU) and pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The case study also investigated a focus group of TCU faculty members who taught STEM courses. The case study also contains an observation of 13 Native American students during a bridge program activity at a TCU, used as a recruitment tool and preparation strategy for potential STEM students. The research was intended to explore the influence and strategies currently employed by TCUs to help Native American students successfully complete degrees in STEM-related subjects and what further approaches might be useful in the future to increase the numbers of Native American STEM professionals. Participant stories divulged positive and negative aspects of the TCUs the students attended and divulged their opinions on how the services at their TCUs could be improved. Data were collected by transcribing the audiorecordings of the interviews and focus group discussion and analyzing the information through coding into themes and patterns. The themes included family and friendly atmosphere, financial support, low cost, accessibility, helpfulness, culture, accountability, academic support, research, time management, nontraditional students (i.e., older than the usual college age), recruitment, and retention. This qualitative case study has found that successful Native American STEM graduates are failing at their Boards, thus preventing them from employment and becoming successful STEM professionals.