ERIC Number: ED389484
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Cognitive and Cultural Constructions: The First Year Experience.
Warner, Linda Sue; Brown, Dennis
The first-year experiences of minority-group college students are often highly stressful and may influence decisions about remaining in college. M. R. Louis' model of meaning and sense-making provides a framework for examining the experiences of American Indian college freshmen and for evaluating interventions aimed at lowering student attrition at tribally controlled colleges. The model describes the process by which individuals in new situations encounter, respond to, and reinterpret "surprises," experiences that differ from what was anticipated or assumed. Five types of surprises are outlined: conscious expectations, self-expectations, unanticipated features, internal reactions, and cultural assumptions. Until recently, all federal Indian education policies aimed at assimilation of Indian children into White culture. Begun in 1968, tribally controlled community colleges have greatly increased Indian postsecondary participation and graduation rates by permitting students to maintain a cultural base in their home communities. At Haskell Indian Nations University, a federally operated college with 100 percent American Indian and Alaska Native enrollment, faculty and staff have instituted a variety of structural and curricular changes aimed at highlighting the relevancy of students' cultures and values. Such strategies narrow the gap between students' expectations and the realities of the freshman year and increase the likelihood that students will assign appropriate meanings to surprises. (SV)
Descriptors: American Indian Education, American Indians, Cognitive Processes, College Freshmen, Colleges, Culturally Relevant Education, Culture Conflict, Educational Strategies, Higher Education, Models, Schemata (Cognition), Student Adjustment, Student Alienation, Student College Relationship, Tribally Controlled Education
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Haskell Indian Nations University KS
Note: Paper presented at the International Conference "The First Year Experience" (8th, York, England, United Kingdom, July 11-15, 1995).