Journal Article

Engaging American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Students with Participatory Bioexploration Assays

March 31, 2016

Engaging American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Students with Participatory Bioexploration Assays. NACTA Journal, 2016. Joshua Kellogg (2), Nathalie J. Plundrich (2), Mary Ann Lila (2,5), D. Barry Croom (3), Rebecca F. Taylor (3), Brittany Graf (4), Ilya Raskin (4).

Author Affiliations

2. North Carolina State University, Kannapolis, NC
3. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
4. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ


American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students can experience a disconnect between their indigenous culture and the Eurocentric focus of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classrooms. As a result, some AI/AN students are less motivated
to participate in educational activities that seem irrelevant or detached from their daily existence. An educational methodology utilizing AI/AN culturally-relevant medicinal plant knowledge as a foundation for inquiry-based bioexploratory lectures and laboratory experiments was tested for its potential to promote enhanced engagement in STEM instruction for AI/AN students. Workshop modules were held with 40 AI/AN high school student participants in Alaska and 12 middle and high school Lakota students and ten college Lakota studentsin North Dakota. The STROBE technique, an observational method previously validated to measure engagement in medical school lectures, was used to determine the level of engagement among students during the lecture, discussion, and laboratory portions of the workshops. From 1718 discrete student observations, students exhibited engagement behavior 1247 times, for an average of 72.5%. College students displayed higher levels of engagement (80.0% average) compared to high school students (70.3%). This research suggests that emphasizing traditional AI/AN culture in a participatory learning environment has the potential to enhance engagement of AI/AN students in STEM disciplines.

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