Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 5, 2008

Student Development in Tribal Colleges and Universities

Juan R Guardia and Nancy Evans

Tribal colleges play a powerful role in the personal development as well as the academic development of American Indian students. By providing access, exposure to native culture, personal support, preparation for further education, and a sense of empowerment, tribal colleges are influential in advancing self-awareness, interpersonal sensitivity, intellectual development, acculturation, and identity development of their enrolled students. While theories of student development have helped to explain the psychosocial, cognitive, and moral development of students in American higher education, very little research has specifically investigated the development of American Indian students, particularly those enrolled in tribal colleges. Theories of adult development and learning, acculturation, and identity development are gaining greater attention in the human development literature and have potential for enhancing understanding of the development that American Indian students experience. These theories, however, rarely consider the effects of higher education on development. In this article, we present a brief overview of several adult development, acculturation, and identity development theories, along with what little research does exist relating these theories to American Indian students. We speculate about the impact that tribal college environments have on development and discuss potentially influential factors in these environments that enhance development. Finally, we present implications for practice and future research focusing on the development of American Indian students in tribal college settings.

Published Online: 2008-8-5

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