Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study is to better understand the successful educational experiences among Native American doctoral recipients and why they succeeded where so many others have failed to reach that level of education. The participants' individual experiences were recorded during the in-depth interviews. Their own voices have indicated their path to success.

Qualitative research methods were used in the study including interviews, participant observation, and follow-up telephone interviews. Data were analyzed for themes and results were discussed in reference to the literature. Recommendations for parents, teachers, school administrators, mentors, faculty, and college administrators were provided.

The study allowed the participants to tell their stories about their road to success. Five themes and two other common factors emerged as a result of the study: Theme One. The value of education was highly stressed by the participants, his/her family, and mentors all through the educational experience. Theme Two. A strong faculty member/mentor and Native American support system (often called a community) were available and very important to the participants as they progressed to the completion of their terminal degree. Theme Three. The participants had a positive self-image which contributed to a successful academic experience. Theme Four. The participants describe themselves as self-disciplined and/or goal-oriented. Theme Five . The participants engaged in extra-curricular activities during their schooling which enhanced their academic experience. Other Common Features. First, all but one participant stopped-out of school at least one time during their educational experience. Second, the participants were products of public, private, or parochial education during their preparatory years.

This study emphasizes the need for a qualitative look at what contributes to the academic success of Native American Students. Parents, teachers, faculty, mentors, and administrators must become aware of the important role they play in providing the five themes of support and other factors the participants indicated made them successful.

Included in

Psychology Commons