• A comparison between talking circles and mainstream student support groups for college life adjustment with Alaska Native students

      Woods, Tina Marie; David, E. J. R.; Petraitis, John; Lampman, John; Allen, James (2013-05)
      Alaska Native college students are less likely to graduate within a four year time span, have higher drop-out rates, and have lower grade point averages compared to other students. In addition to the typical life adjustments, challenges, and stressors that come along with college life, Alaska Native college students also commonly face conflicts between their heritage culture and the Westernized systems of colleges and universities, which might make it more difficult for Alaska Native college students to successfully adjust to college life, perform well academically, and remain committed to completing their education. Thus, this study used an experimental design to compare two similar student support groups (Talking Circles or TC and Mainstream Support Groups or MSG) that were administered during an academic semester to determine which works better with Alaska Native college students for facilitating their adjustment to college life, academic performance, and commitment to completing college. Using an experimental, pre-/post-test comparison group design with 24 Alaska Native college students (TC n=10; MSG n=14), the results revealed that neither TCs nor MSGs increased levels of adjustment to college life and commitment to completing college. Furthermore, although the results showed that students who participated in TCs felt more satisfied and felt that they were heard better by their group compared to students in the MSGs., no evidence was found to support the effectiveness of TCs in improving adjustment to college life, academic success, and commitment to college. Along with the study limitations, future research and service implications regarding the use of TCs among Alaska Native college students -- and among Alaska Native Peoples more generally -- are discussed.
    • School Connectedness: the benefits of a school-based peer-mentoring program for transitioning students in secondary education

      Murdock, Lucy Marie Rabold; Cook, Christine; Gifford, Valerie; Harrison, Lynn (2015)
      The transition to a new high school can disrupt social networks, cause anxiety, and hinder academic success for secondary students. School-based comprehensive peer-mentoring programs that focus on transitioning secondary students have the potential to alleviate the anxiety of a changing school climate by promoting school connectedness, building peer relationships, and being sensitive to the social, academic, and procedural concerns of transitioning secondary students (Cauley & Jovanovich, 2006). Students who feel connected to school feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others in the school social environment, all of which may guard against student alienation, poor self-esteem, and other deviant behaviors for adolescent youth. The following research paper discusses how focused school-based peer-mentoring programs for adolescents may help to build school and peer connectedness; promote academic achievement, healthy development, and psychological health; increase protective factors; and decrease risky behaviors. A presentation and program guide for secondary administration and staff were developed based on the information found in the literature review.