ERIC Number: ED215652
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Dec
Reference Count: 0
Gatekeeping: Access or Retention?
Educational practice and barriers to full participation of Alaska Natives in postsecondary education were examined in an ethnographic study begun in October 1980 by the University of Alaska. Focus was on the institutional placement, organization, and functioning of gatekeeping encounters within the university, primarily the central Fairbanks campus. This report aims partially to encourage members of the university community--faculty and students--to think through the problem of institutional barriers. The participation rate of Alaska Natives in postsecondary education was originally seen as a problem of gaining entrance and movement through the university. However, viewing the problem as one of gaining access to the resources of the university was too simple to be productive, and the notion of retention implied another contrasting model that was also too simple a model of the relationship between a university and its client population. In addition the "gates" of the institution must be understood as consisting of networks of institutional practices and values. The degree to which the University of Alaska was perceived as a total institution was another issue. There appeared to be a fairly high level of discrepancy between embedded institutional structures and stated attitudes along with fairly large differences between faculty and student perceptions of the functions and structure of the university. These differences make it difficult to unambiguously point to a particular situation as the root of the retention problem. An example of different perceptions of the nature of the institution is the complaint voiced by students that faculty members are paternalistic; many students perceived faculty "help" as a pressure and some cited it as a reason for dropping out. (SW)
Descriptors: Academic Persistence, Access to Education, Alaska Natives, College Attendance, College Environment, College Role, Higher Education, Organizational Theories, Postsecondary Education, School Organization, Student Attitudes, Student College Relationship, Student Teacher Relationship, Teacher Attitudes
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Gatekeeper Role; University of Alaska Fairbanks
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropology Association (Los Angeles, CA, December 1981).