Volume 29, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Co-Editors: Bob Ives, Rod E. Case, and Peter Cobin

Factors Associated with the Post-College Aspiration to Serve Reservation Communities Among Native American College Students

Ronald Ferguson, Luther College
Terry Huffman, College of Southern Nevada

Abstract:  Strides toward Native American self-governance and determination have led to significant initiatives designed to protect and preserve community traditional practice and participation. A specific focus of this paper examines potential factors that affect Native American students’ post-college aspirations with respect to participation and support for their communities. The findings derive from a survey of 86 Native American college students attending a predominately non-Native university. While not all Native American college students live on or near a reservation, the results indicate that students in this particular sample reported a significant aspiration towards reservation community involvement post-college. Such findings could potentially shape more effective collaborations between tribal communities and private and public institutions by emphasizing outcomes especially beneficial to reservation communities. This is particularly relevant to institutions of higher education that share an interest in the success of both Native students and the communities from which they come.

Reference: Ferguson, R., & Huffman, T. (2018). Factors associated with the post-college aspiration to serve reservation communities among Native American college students. Educational Research: Theory and Practice, 29(1), 1-14.

Comparing Students’ Experiences and Preferences with Online Courses

Clay L. Rasmussen, Weber State University
David R. Byrd,  Weber State University
Kristin L. Nelson, Weber State University
Rudy S. Tarpley, Tarleton State University

Abstract:  Literature on online learning is replete with key factors needed for effective course delivery; however, the approaches and ideas that educators deem important do not always align with those of students. This study sought to compare actual online course design with student-indicated preferences. A survey instrument was administered to students enrolled in one or more online courses at a rural university in the southwestern United States. Students identified components of their online course(s) and rated components based on personal importance. Data were analyzed using the Borich Model, ranking items on differences between what the participants preferred and what they experienced. The results provide some important insights for educators designing and teaching online courses in higher education.

Reference:  Rasmussen, C., Byrd, R., Nelson, K., & Tarpley, R. (2018). Comparing students’ experiences and preferences with online courses. Educational Research: Theory and Practice, 29(1), 15-31.

Mentors and Career Path Development: Implications for Leadership Training

Susan A. Turner,  Utah State University
Michael K. Freeman, Utah State University 

Abstract: In this study, the career paths of “expert” (Lord & Hall, 2005) educational leaders were explored. Findings supported the importance of mentor influence on the trajectory of the educational leaders’ career paths. Narrative data was gathered in three qualitative interviews (Clandinin & Connelly, 2006). Participants were nine high-level educational leaders from K-20 institutions in the Western US. Narrative career path stories and constant-comparative analysis (Lichtman, 2013) yielded a proposed model that describes the “process” of Mentor Career Path Influence. Constant comparative analysis yielded five common themes and related sub-themes describing mentor “functions”. Outcomes of this study may extend current understandings of mentor influence on career paths, and may inform the design of university mentoring and leadership development programs.

Reference:  Turner, S. A., & Freeman, M. (2018). Mentors and career path development: Implications for leadership training. Educational Research: Theory and Practice, 29(1), 32-46.

Student Perceptions Regarding the Effectiveness of the WyoCourses Orientations Course: A Pilot Study

Mary D. Wehunt, University of Wyoming
Christi Boggs, University of Wyoming 
David Des Armier, Jr., University of Connecticut, Storrs

Abstract: This study, conducted by graduate students, investigated student perceptions of an online course orientation: WyoCourses Orientation Course. This process began with a university-wide change to a new learning management system (LMS). We carried out focus groups with a small group of students about the tools they used, how they interacted with course content, if the new LMS impacted their learning, and how their community interaction improved. Then, we combined the focus group results, literature review findings, and consultations with experts to design an online survey as 458 students responded. The 28-item online survey measured student satisfaction on five subscales: navigation, content, understanding, satisfaction and communication effectiveness.

Reference:  Wehunt, M., Boggs, C., & Armier, D. (2018). Student perceptions regarding the effectiveness of the WyoCourses orientations course: A pilot study. Educational Research: Theory and Practice, 29(1), 47-56.