The purpose of this study is to identify and explore factors relating to the successful high school graduation of Native American students attending schools on or near the Tulalip Reservation. Research regarding the dropout of Native American students is abundant, this research however, may not fully explain how some Native American students are able to overcome the obstacles they face and successfully graduate from high school. Research into the success of Native American students in high school is essential to understanding how we can further support, encourage, and assist Native American students.
The primary research question for this study is: What are the obstacles facing Native American high school students living on or near the Tulalip Reservation and what are the strategies they use to successfully overcome these obstacles? Several additional, more specific, questions will also guide this study. Researcher’s Philosophy Post-positivism is the researcher’s philosophy in recognizing that reality cannot be set apart from its context as positivism assumes. As Hughes (1994) explained, there could a more than one construction of reality.
Proctor (1998) further explained that an important contextual factor affecting the construction of reality is culture or cultural belief. Understanding reality means immersing into the linkages between the attitudes and behavior of individuals and external socio-cultural structures and issues. This fits the purpose of the research of determining the internal and external obstacles experienced by Native American high school students and the strategies they implement to address these challenges to successfully graduate from high school from the student’s perspective.
The focus of the research is the reality construction of the high school students to derive in-depth data to address the research purpose. Theoretical Framework Based on the review of literature, the theoretical framework of the study follows the problem-solving approach, which Timberlake, Farber and Sabatino (2008) described as the perspective of exploring the causes of a problem and discovering and prioritizing solutions to reach an intended outcome.
This captures the flow of the research process of identifying the obstacles facing Native American high school students before exploring various strategies in successfully addressing these obstacles to ensure successful graduation. Figure 1: Theoretical Framework Literature closely related to the study already lists down some of the problems of Native American students affecting successful graduation such as large schools, uncaring teachers and others mentioned by Reyhner (2006).
There are also suggested ways that schools can help students face these challenges such as through familiarity with the Native American culture of teachers, customized learning curriculum and others explained by Gilliland (1988). Results would determine whether Native American high school students still experience these obstacles and explore new issues. This would support an assessment of the merit of the suggested strategies in addressing obstacles and point to areas for improvement and expansion.
Research Design This will use mixed methods by using primarily qualitative research to obtain comprehensive data (Creswell, 2003) on obstacles and strategies from the perspective of students but incorporating aspects of quantitative research. Qualitative research is a naturalistic perspective applicable in investigations requiring understanding of phenomenon as it occurs in particular real world contexts so that the researcher does not intend to manipulate the situation subject to study (Patton, 2002).
Quantitative research involves the manipulation variable relationships to come up with measurable data (Blaxter, Hughes & Tight, 1998). Demographic data, obtained from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Washington State) will provide information regarding the graduation rates of local and national Native American students. Sampling Design Approximately 20 Native American students who have graduated from schools on or near the Tulalip Reservation, as well as those who dropped out before graduation, will participate in the interviews and the survey questionnaires.
The names of the former students will be obtained through school records and/or through the Tulalip Tribes education department. The method of identifying and selecting the sample of respondents is purposive sampling, which operates through the drawing of criteria characterizing the desired sample of respondents. The criteria work by distinguishing the desired sample from the population. (Ardilly & Tille, 2006) The criteria are Native American descent and studied high school within or near the Tulalip reservation whether successfully graduated or dropped out before graduation. Measures
Measures explain the relationship of values assigned to variable attributes to give meaning to the data collected. The study employs higher level of measurement by using both interval and ratio measurement. Interval measurement provides meaning by considering distance between variable attributes. Ratio measurement creates meaning y comparing values of variable attributes with zero. (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998) In the study, there are four variables, which are enrollment of Native American in high school students, obstacles, strategies, and successful graduation of Native American high school students.
Internal measurement applies in interpreting the distance between the number of Native American high school enrollees and graduates after four years or the differences in the number of Native American high school students experiencing similar obstacles and applying common strategies. Ratio measurement provides meaning by considering the change in the number of successful graduations of Native American students using a common obstacle coping strategies. Reliability Notes
Eisner (1991) explained reliability in qualitative research as the ability to explain an otherwise confusing phenomenon. Stenbacka (2001) added that a good qualitative research is reliable when this generates understanding of the phenomenon. Achieving an acceptable level of reliability in the current study means deriving and analyzing information in a manner that creates understanding of the obstacles faced by Native American high school students and the strategies that they employed to address these obstacles to successfully graduate.
Validity Notes Johnson (1997) explained validity in qualitative research as trustworthiness to come up with a credible research result that supports generalizations, which is one outcome of a good qualitative research (Stenbacka, 2001). This means that research data susceptible to generalizations reflects high validity of qualitative research. In the given study, generalizations refer to the representation of the research sample of the general population of Native American high school students and their educational experiences.