Student Success Initiatives
AIHEC’s Student Success Initiative supports Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in building their capacities to provide high quality culturally responsive postsecondary opportunities to ensure TCU student success. Our work focusses on many areas of institutional transformation including enhancing student services, strengthening institutional research and data literacy, developing instructors’ knowledge in effective teaching, and advancing knowledge about best practices in American Indian/Alaska Native education.
AIHEC’s Student Success Team comprises individuals with a range of expertise related to TCU student success. Working on multiple grant-funded projects, team members collaborate closely with TCU personnel, Native communities, and other partners to customize our work to align with TCU contexts and their identified needs.,/p>
I. Content Structure
A. AIHEC AIMS
i. Introduction: AIHEC’s landmark data collection initiative, American Indian Measures of Success (AIHEC AIMS), was launched in 2004 with generous funding from the Lumina Foundation for Education. AIHEC developed the data collection instrument, AIMS Key Indicator System (AKIS), with input from AIHEC, TCUs, accrediting organizations, American Indian College Fund, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. AKIS incorporates unique measures of success that are not included in traditional higher education reporting requirements.
AIHEC AIMS helps build capacity in data collection and accountability at TCUs and, in doing so, strengthens the ability of TCUs to measure success, build the foundation for systemic program change, and ultimately increase the participation and success of American Indian students in higher education. AIHEC AIMS consists of two parts: quantitative and qualitative. The numbers support the stories, and the stories bring the numbers to life. Together, they help to paint the picture and tell the story of the Tribal College Movement.
For more information, please contact Katherine Cardell, AIHEC Research and Policy Associate.
- Fall 2020 Snapshot
- Quickfacts AY 2018-19
B. Institutional Transformation in TCUs
i. AIHEC as a BMGF Intermediary for Scale:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports intermediary for Scale (IFS). The IFS strategy is a plan to help institutional transformation at scale to build organization capacity for sale intermediaries. AIHEC will support multiple TCUs to undergo an institutional change. AIHEC is among the 12 selected intermediaries for scale who are spending time building the organizational capacity required to support institutional transformation at scale. To become more student-centered, AIHEC and its partners will provide connections and guidance to TCUs. The intermediaries for scale will support institutional transformations through (1) overseeing strategy and operations for their organization and the network; (2) building awareness and influencing decisions related to institutional transformation; (3) using data to aggregate demand for and high-quality broker supports required to speed transformation; and (4) ensuring the health and connectivity of their networks – all with a cross-cutting emphasis on (5) continuous improvement across the ecosystem and (6) a focus on equity.
Primary outcome(s) or result(s)
The grant will build capacity across four key areas:
- Increasing awareness of successful and promising transformation strategies among campus leaders and communities.
- Informing key campus-level decisions about change options and strategies and supporting decision-makers.
- Supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.
- Building connections across colleges and universities and other supporting organizations to accelerate and streamline learning and sharing of promising practices.
AIHEC is on the Blueprint stage with the – Specific Outcomes:
- Development of capacities needed to execute new or emerging institutional transformation strategy.
- The creation of an initial business plan for executing the roles and responsibilities of an intermediary for scale.
- Initial preparation for validating and launching the business model.
- Engagement in networked improvement community
- Contribution to the body of knowledge around institutional transformation and scale
ii. Supporting Professional Development of TCU Personnel
TCU Faculty Trainings – One means by which AIHEC supports institutional transformation is in coordinating professional development for TCU personnel that aligns with their identified needs. For example, during the rapid transition to online instruction in response to the pandemic in spring 2020, a survey of the AIHEC Board members indicated that training for faculty in online instruction was a high priority. In summer 2021, AIHEC partnered with the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) to coordinate and deliver an online professional development courses in effective digital teaching, enrolling 330 TCU faculty members. Grouped in thirty-member cohorts facilitated by TCU faculty member experts, enrollees engaged in Communities of Practice, working together to build their skills and knowledge in online instruction. With funding from the American Indian College Fund, AIHEC’s professional development work expanded to include additional courses in spring 2021, serving 127 TCU faculty members. Faculty members earn a micro-credential for each course they successfully complete; the completion of four courses results in faculty members earning a full credential as an online instructor. Evaluation findings from this project were overwhelmingly positive with enrollees giving high praise to the quality of the courses overall, the influence of the TCU facilitators in improving the relevance of courses for TCU contexts, and the opportunity to work with other TCU faculty members in a Community of Practice.
iii. Resource Sharing Working Group
The Resource Sharing Working Group is comprised of TCU CAOs and AIHEC staff working towards advancing the transferability of credits and sharing of resources across TCU institutions. This work is mandated by the Board of Directors and is part of AIHEC’s long-term work to establish a National Tribal University.
C. Data, Evaluation and Research
The Tribal Colleges and Universities of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium believe unique cultural connections exist between Indigenous peoples, their environments, and the world of those who came before.
AIHEC believes that research conducted by, for, or in partnership with Tribal Colleges and Universities must honor, respect, and protect those attributes that distinguish Indigenous peoples and cultures – Tribal sovereignty, spirituality, native languages and practices, Tribal homelands, families and communities, the traditional knowledge of Tribal elders, and the hopes for generations to come.
AIHEC promotes the role of Tribal Colleges and Universities in defining and guiding scholarship that seeks knowledge. AIHEC holds that such research should be conducted with integrity and in respectful, compassionate, and culturally appropriate ways. Such research should further be conducted in an interdisciplinary fashion, as nothing is done in isolation, it is all related.
i. Guiding Principles
- Indigenous Community-based Participatory Research (I-CBPR)
- Research for Continuous Improvement
- AIHEC and the TCUs compose a single Research Community
ii. Indigenous Evaluation Framework
The AIHEC Indigenous Evaluation Framework is committed to maintain, restore, and preserve American Indians’ and Alaskan Natives’ values, wisdom and traditional pedagogies and knowledge through curricula and programs designed to make learning more meaningful to tribal situations and cultures among Tribal College and K-12 educators. The approach described in the Framework.
The Framework identifies four core cultural values that influence approaches to evaluation in Indigenous communities: Creating the Story; Building the Scaffolding; Planning, Implementing and Celebrating; and Engaging Community and Building Capacity.
Link to AIHEC Indigenous Evaluation Framework:
iii. AIHEC Research Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on TCU Student Experiences
In fall 2020, nearly 500 Tribal College and University (TCU) students participated in a study on the impact of the COVID-19 on their coursework and their daily lives. The survey results, published here for the first time, provide a valuable needs assessment tool and data to assist the TCUs and AIHEC in better meeting the needs of their students. The first study of its kind, the survey posed an array of questions focusing on persistence, online learning, and physical and mental well-being. The results underscore the far-reaching effects of the pandemic on TCUs, Native students, and their communities.
Link: Report on AIHEC Research Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on TCU Student Experiences, February 2021
iv. AIHEC Lumina Foundation Postsecondary Student Success Secondary Research Study
The framework is not meant to replace existing success strategies; rather, it will provide guidance for optimizing postsecondary experiences and credentialing programs for AI/ANs at multiple levels, including institutions, Tribes, and state/federal governments.
Link to Lumina project https://portalcentral.aihec.org/MSIStudentSuccess/Pages/Lumina-Initiative.aspx
i. ATD – Achieving the Dream: DREAM Scholars Program
- Description: Achieving the Dream welcomes nominations of student leaders from TCU ATD network colleges who want to make a difference on their campuses and in their communities for the DREAM Scholars program. The program lasts a year and is designed to enhance key leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. DREAM Scholars also attend ATD’s annual conference. Achieving the Dream covers virtually all costs. Two of the eight students selected as DREAM Scholars in 2018 and 2019 came from tribal colleges. In 2020 and 2021, one of the eight students selected as a DREAM Scholar came from a tribal colleges.
ii. WINHEC – World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium
- World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC), a non-profit international Indigenous organization based in New Zealand, provides an international forum and support for Indigenous Peoples to pursue common goals through higher education. AIHEC was a founder of WINHEC as a direct result of their involvement in the 1999 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE), an international Indigenous education conference held every three years. Through funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, AIHEC provides support to pursue common goals through higher education by providing U.S.-based involvement in advancing the goals of WINHEC.
iii. ACUE – Association of College and University Educators
- ACUE’s mission is to ensure student success through quality instruction. ACUE believes that every faculty member deserves the support and preparation needed to teach well, so that every student receives an extraordinary education. In partnership with institutions of higher education, ACUE prepares, credentials, and provides on-going support to faculty in the use of evidence-based teaching practices that promote student engagement, persistence to graduation, career readiness, and deeper levels of learning. Faculty who satisfy the requirements of ACUE’s courses through institutional partnerships or open enrollment courses earn certificates in effective college instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education.
During the rapid transition to online instruction in response to the pandemic in spring 2020, a survey of the AIHEC Board members indicated that training for faculty in online instruction was a high priority. In summer 2021, AIHEC partnered with the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) to coordinate and deliver an online professional development courses in effective digital teaching, enrolling 330 TCU faculty members. Grouped in thirty-member cohorts facilitated by TCU faculty member experts, enrollees engaged in Communities of Practice, working together to build their skills and knowledge in online instruction. With funding from the American Indian College Fund, AIHEC’s professional development work expanded to include additional courses in spring 2021, serving 127 TCU faculty members. Faculty members earn a micro-credential for each course they successfully complete; the completion of four courses results in faculty members earning a full credential as an online instructor.