Lisa Jo Azure

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Bonni Gourneau


The purpose of this case study was to conduct a descriptive analysis of a teacher education professional educator licensure program for American Indian pre-service teachers at a tribal college. The professional educator was generally defined as one who completed a state-approved teacher education program and met state licensure requirements, including standardized testing requirements. The case study describes the context of a tribal college teacher education program and the dimensions of the program. Included are an analysis of documents, processes, and, most important, perspectives from the program graduates of the dimensions that contributed to their successful completion of the program, and meeting state licensure requirements, and factors that should be considered to strengthen the program for future teacher candidates, as well as those they felt were less significant.

Participants in this case study were 10 American Indian graduates of the tribal college elementary education baccalaureate program that was the setting for the case, all of whom have met state licensure requirements, and are currently practicing teachers. In addition, five faculty members from the same tribal college were included as participants to provide their perspectives.

Results from a series of qualitative surveys indicated four primary themes as contributing to the participants becoming licensed teachers: (1) rigorous program with high expectations for performance; (2) student financial grant support; (3) extensive professional development opportunities; and (4) competent, caring faculty in diverse settings.

In addition to the survey results, an overall theme, "committed student and supportive program," was identified from analyses of individual interviews of participants based on their perspectives as students. The individual interview responses of the graduate participants, Tribal descendants who are overcoming diversity and fulfilling their roles of mending the "broken hoop," included a wealth of insight into the participants' experiences in their journey to becoming professional educators, actualizing the Seventh Generation prophecy, and making a difference in the lives of numerous children and their families. Their invaluable perspectives include implications for tribal, public, and private institutions of higher education intent upon increasing the number of licensed American Indian professional educators in classrooms throughout the United States.