Innovative two-year program, developed with support from mainstream universities, builds research skills and prepares graduates for a wide range of “people” professions.
By Paul Boyer
While all tribal colleges are looking for ways to expand their STEM degree programs, offerings in the social and behavioral sciences sometimes lag behind. According to Scott Morgan, director of institutional development at Sisseton Wahpeton College located on the Lake Traverse Reservation of South Dakota, this is a missed opportunity.
“On our reservation, social service-type jobs are one of the primary sectors where people are needed,” said Morgan. This is true even when compared to the technology and the hard sciences. “If you look across the board at STEM, there are more jobs that relate to behavioral sciences than any other area.”
In response, Sisseton Wahpeton College is now offering a new two-year behavioral sciences degree. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation and in partnership with North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University, it is one of the first behavioral science degrees offered by a tribally controlled college and it is the first developed with support from the NSF.
Minority Undergraduate Students Connect Over STEM Research Projects at United Tribes Technical College
By Katie Scarlett Brandt
Tribal colleges often collaborate with mainstream universities on research. So do historically black colleges. But why don’t different minority-serving institutions collaborate with each other?
That simple question led to a unique opportunity for a group of undergraduate students from four HBCUs and one tribally controlled college to take part in a 10-week research project this past summer at a school other than their own. Each student spent from May to July at their choice school, conducting research and meeting weekly with a mentor.
The National Science Foundation funded the project through a program called NSF INCLUDES—an initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering by developing STEM talent from all societal sectors. The Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network took the lead on the program as part of an effort to wipe out disparities between under-represented groups in STEM education.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Undergraduate research is a growing part of the STEM curriculum within many tribal and Native serving colleges. The opportunity to conduct original research, even in the first years of study, strengthens learning and, faculty report, increases student interest in STEM disciplines traditionally overlooked by Native students. Additionally, research projects devised by students often focus on the needs of their own communities and frequently honor traditional values and unique cultural knowledge, producing innovative projects and new approaches to scholarship.
To highlight and support this work, we put out a call to tribal colleges and Native-serving universities nationwide, inviting submissions to our new Student Research Award program. For the spring 2018 academic term, three submissions were chosen for publication, beginning with Kapiolani Community College student Jusden Keliikuli’s paper below.
Congratulations to Mr. Keliikuli–and to the other awardees who will be featured in the coming months.
–Dr. Paul Boyer, Editor
How fo’ solve one Atwood System in Pidgin
by Jusden Keoni Keli‘ikuli
Physics is a difficult subject that I struggled to understand. But I was able to succeed with the help and encouragement of Dr. Herv´e Collin who allowed me to write this physics research paper in Hawai‘i Creole English (HCE), also known as Pidgin in Hawai‘i. I consider Pidgin as my first language because I grew up in the moku (district) of Wai‘anae on the mokupuni (island) of O‘ahu where Pidgin is commonly spoken. Writing in Pidgin helped to bridge the language gap between Pidgin and English, thus making it easier for me to clarify and comprehend physics concepts and problem solving methods. Not only has writing in Pidgin increased my physics comprehension, but it also made physics and writing more enjoyable for me. I hope that this research paper will help my fellow k¯anakas and Pidgin-speaking students succeed in physics and inspire other k¯anakas to purse a career in STEM. The full paper PDF file can be downloaded here: Jusden Keliʻikuli’s pidgin research paper
Beginning with uncertain plans and a few false starts, Student Research Award winner Jusden Keliikuli found support and success at Kapiolani Community College.
In high school, I didn’t prepare for college. I completed the SAT test at the last minute before graduation and received low scores. Attending a local community college became my best option. While taking a year off before enrolling, nursing became an interest. The salary, along with the opportunity to care for others, was very appealing. So I started my college career by majoring in nursing at Kapiolani Community College (KCC), where I completed prerequisite courses. I transferred to Hawaii Pacific University (HPU), hoping to be accepted into its nursing program. While at KCC and HPU, however, my interest for nursing gradually faded, which affected my grades. Eventually, I decided to drop out of HPU for financial, academic, and personal reasons.
FIELD NOTES: Native Science Report Blog
The National Science Foundation’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Program is hosting a webinar to provide more information about Tribal Enterprise Advancement Centers on Monday, April 30 at 3 p.m. eastern time.
A new addition to TCUP’s solicitation, TEA Centers enable tribal colleges “to become research and development resources for their reservations and communities.” Specifically, “TEA Centers may address a critical tribal or community need or focus on a realm of STEM research or design that is beyond the scope of individual research grants or that is of interest to multiple tribes.”
The April 30 webinar will discuss what is meant by the term TEA Center, required elements of a center proposal, and examples possible center themes. Chief academic officers are particularly encouraged to participate since they are the suggested PI’s for TEA Center grants, along with other relevant colleagues.
Advance registration for the webinar is not required. Simply use the link below (to see the slides and listen to the conversation) or the call-in number to join.
To join the Webex meeting:
Meeting number (access code): 749 044 164 Meeting password: Tcup2018!
Or join by phone:
+1-415-655-0002 US Toll
A new video, released this past weekend by the National Science Foundation, is spotlighting the role of research within tribally controlled colleges.
Focusing on student and faculty research supported by the NSF’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP), the twenty-minute documentary explores how tribal colleges “are providing acclaimed STEM leadership in education and research,” according to the NSF. The video, titled “A Best Kept Secret,” features research taking place within eight colleges, ranging from Northwest Indian College in Washington State, which is tracking toxins in shellfish, to Salish Kootenai College in Montana, where the effects of climate change are monitored in the productivity of huckleberry bushes. These and other studies support student learning while also promoting economic development and informed policy-making within tribal nations, according to the video.
Most tribal colleges are located in impoverished communities and all work with fewer resources than most mainstream colleges and universities. Additionally, many students also arrive with limited academic preparation. “In spite of that,” the NSF noted, “the TCUs are preparing their students for baccalaureate degrees, graduate studies, and to take their places as scientific resources for their people and the nation.”
The full video can be viewed here: