Title

Factors That Contribute To the Academic Persistence of the Chitimacha Indians of Louisiana

Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Ronald A. Styron, Jr.

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to identify characteristics of Chitimacha Indian undergraduates or graduates that may have contributed to their persistence in working toward or obtaining a baccalaureate degree or beyond. The Factors Influencing Pursuit of Higher Education Questionnaire was utilized in this study and is a self-reporting measure that investigates factors that influence individuals to pursue higher education. Questions were related to demographic backgrounds, academic backgrounds, support systems, social integration, and academic integration variables, family influence, father's influence, mother's influence, peer influence, locus of control, self-efficacy, relative functionalism, glass ceiling, secondary school effect, financial aid concerns, and preparation for college. Qualities of the successful persisters were identified and correlations based on geographic residency were conducted to identify the relationship, if any, to academic persistence. A chi square test was conducted to assess the relationship between descriptive variables and persistence. The results were statistically nonsignificant for all variables. An independent samples t test was conducted to identify relationships to variables between participants who were persisters and those who were nonpersisters. Results were statistically significant for the family variable, father's influence, locus of control variable, and financial aid variable. A discriminant function analysis was conducted to identify variables that could be used as predictors of academic persistence. Results identified family influence, mother's influence, father's influence, locus of control, and financial aid as accurate predictors of academic persistence. A Pearson chi square was conducted to compare persisters and nonpersisters to geographic location (Reservation, Service Area, In-State, Out-of-State). Results were all nonsignificant. Overall, these results suggest that the participants, who were persisters, were those who had family support, particularly from the mother and father, felt in control of their academic choices and academic successes, and received financial aid from the Chitimacha Scholarship Program. It is recommended that further studies of the Chitimacha Tribal population be conducted to profile a more accurate picture of their educational persistence due to the low participation level (17%) in this study. It is also suggested that persistence research continue in other American Indian populations in order to replicate their academic successes.