The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to serve American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other schools.
This KnowledgeBase is currently being updated to reflect recent changes under federal law. The current version is provided for your reference as much of the information may still be relevant.
Purpose: To ensure educators working with American Indian students are aware of past efforts at improving the academic achievement of these students, the limited success of these efforts, and current federally funded Indian education programs
Overview: There are differences among children in terms of how they "learn to learn" in their homes. These differences can affect how successful they are in school. For instance, in some homes children are expected to be very respectful of adults and to be "seen and not heard," while in other homes children are encouraged to ask questions about anything and everything because the parents think that is how children learn. Dr. Lori Alvord Arviso, the first female Navajo surgeon, recalled in her 1999 autobiography The Scalpel and the Silver Bear that subject matter preparation was not the only problem she faced when she went to college. She writes, "Navajos are taught from the youngest age never to draw attention to ourselves. So Navajo children do not raise their hands in class. At a school like Dartmouth, the lack of participation was seen as a sign not of humility but lack of interest and a disengaged attitude." Later in medical school she was viewed as "remote and disinterested" for similar reasons.
This article reports on a survey of non-Indian and Indian educators, investigating the knowledge of learning styles on the part of the educators. The study also addresses how much the educators believe that cultural values of American Indians influences a student's learning style and demonstration of learning.
Authored by Karen Swisher, Ed.D., this article reviews the effect of learning styles in the teaching of American Indian and Alaskan Native students. It provides an overview of the research on learning styles and suggests how teachers should approach understanding how their native students learn. As Director of the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University, Dr. Swisher was instrumental in recognizing learning styles as an important element in the professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers in schools attended by American Indian and Alaskan Native children.
Authored by Soleste Hilberg and Roland Tharp, "this Digest begins with a brief discussion of two prominent definitions of learning styles and then describes studies that have found differences between the learning styles of American Indian students and students of other cultural groups. The Digest then presents instructional interventions stemming from learning styles research."
Based upon his experience with the Native Americans of Northeastern Arizona Dr. Robert Rhodes explains how Native American students learn through a holistic approach. Through his experiences he describes a Native American learning style, and how it impacts teaching styles and the learning environment.
The resource is a August 1989 Special Issue of the Journal of American Indian Education devoted to the topic of how American Indian students "learn to learn."
Authored by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, this resource offers a review of the literature and practice implications as it relates to learning styles of American Indian/Alaska Native Students. The paper addresses the following topics: Learning Styles - Fact or Fiction; Historical Basis of the Problem: A Curriculum of Genocide; Current Approaches and Findings Toward Understanding the Learning Styles of American Indian/Alaska Natives Students; and Relationship to Current Practice.
This Journal of American Indian Education article provides an explanation of the theory of learning styles and the implications of such theory in educating American Indian students.
Authored by the Univeristy of Alaska-Fairbaks' professor Ray Barnhardt this article reports that learning is improved when educators are aware of the indigenous worldview and incorporate such knowledge into the curriculum.