Date of Award

Summer 8-5-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Chair

Dr. Thelma Robeson

Committee Chair Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 2

Dr. Forest Lane

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 3

Dr. Leslie Locke

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 4

Dr. David Lee

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

This study was conducted from a theoretical foundation of Feagin’s (2010) racial framing and Brayboy’s (2005) tribal critical race theory. The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of school connectedness as those perceptions relate to racial-ethnic identity among Alaska Native students in a large, predominately White school district. A quantitative phase in which School Climate and Connectedness Survey data were used to evaluate perceptions of school connectedness was followed up by a qualitative phase in which two focus group interviews were conducted to evaluate the degree to which Alaska Native students attributed their perceptions of school connectedness to racial-ethnic identity. The scope of the study involved Alaska Native students (n = 325) and Alaska non-Native students (n= 4059) in the quantitative phase and 13 Alaska Native students in the qualitative phase. The quantitative results indicated there are differences in the seven dimensions purportedly measured by the SCCS that are based upon ethnicity but that those differences are small. The qualitative results indicated that the Alaska Native students in this study did not attribute their perceptions of school connectedness to racial-ethnic identity. The Alaska Native students in this study attributed their perceptions of school connectedness to some teachers who provide encouragement, peers who accept them as Alaska Native students, extra-curricular

activities representative of their Alaska Native cultural heritage, and hard working families who encourage them to do well in school. Programs that target Alaska Native students, encouragement from some teachers, a lack of exposure to and education about racial-ethnic identity and racism, and effective anti-racist counter frames contributed to positive perceptions of school connectedness among the Alaska Native students in this study. It is recommended that school districts provide opportunities for all students of color to learn about racial-ethnic identity in addition to opportunities for all students to discuss and learn from each other about racial and cultural differences. It is further recommended that educators are mindful of processes and structures within the context of the school and classroom that contribute to racial opportunity costs among students of color and provide greater perceptions of school connectedness for all students.

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