Alberta Jones is Assistant Professor of Education, Alaska College of Education, Juneau campus
Alaska Native scholars: a mixed methods investigation of factors influencing PhD attainmentThis study entitled, "Alaska Native Scholars: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Factors Influencing PhD Attainment," investigates the contributing factors influencing the attainment of PhD degrees by Alaska Natives. Originating from a cross-section of rural and urban Alaska communities and tribal ethnicities, this group of scholars attended graduate schools throughout the country. Today many of these PhDs work in universities, conduct research, and advocate for Indigenous people in various leadership roles, both in and outside of Alaska. This study's assumption is these PhD graduates have gained valuable lessons along their path to success and an examination of these factors is relevant to advancing that successs. The findings analyze results from a survey instrument with approximately a 92% response rate from all living Alaska Native PhD/EdD graduates that were able to be located at the time, up to early 2015. Survey participants shared personal, demographic, cultural, social, academic, and economic factors both supporting and hindering PhD attainment. Survey data was validated by ten personal interviews with PhDs from eight different Alaska Native tribes. One goal of this study was to increase our knowledge of the circumstances and factors of Alaska Native doctoral graduates and to build upon knowledge necessary to increase interest and enrollment of Alaska Native PhD graduates. Some questions examined by this study are: What sets of factors do AN PhDs have in common which led to their success? What challenges and barriers are specific to the Alaska Native demographics? If patterns of successful factors exist, can these factors be replicated to expand Alaska Native participation in PhD or other graduate programs? Are there 'lessons learned' in terms of aiding university PhD programs in attracting and graduating Alaska Native students? A stronger PhD representation of this population has implications for leadership, education, business, and policy-making roles serving to increase Indigenous self-determination. Additionally, this research has implications for universities seeking to address gaps in Alaska Native and American Indian faculty representation.