Educational climate in a Native employment preparation program: The perceptions of Native learners.

Educational climate in a Native employment preparation program: The perceptions of Native learners.

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Title: Educational climate in a Native employment preparation program: The perceptions of Native learners.
Author: Brown-Tremblay, Paulette C.
Abstract: In Canada, many undereducated Native adults have not experienced positive educational climates in formal education systems. In fact, a high percentage of Native people have dropped out of the educational process prior to the completion of grade twelve to join the ranks of the undereducated and unemployed. This has created a pressing need to focus on Native literacy and the creation of positive learning environments which encourage Native adults to excel in educational settings. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative research was to describe and analyze the salient factors in a Native literacy program which created an optimal educational climate for Native adult learners. As a research construct, educational climate relates to the total environmental quality in a learning facility as perceived by the participants. To focus and guide the data collection and analysis processes, a conceptual framework of educational climate was developed. Operationally defined, educational climate includes five major dimensions: learner milieu, instructional environment, social environment, cultural environment, and learner outcomes. The Employment Preparation Program, which was delivered by staff of the Grand River Polytechnical Institute and located on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada, was the research site selected for the study. The program was community based and administered by Native staff for Native adult learners. Data were collected at the site over a continuous nine week period which started in September 1994 and ended in November 1994. Eight program learners participated in level one and eleven learners participated in level three; level one was six weeks in length while level three was seven and a half weeks long. A data reduction analysis approach was used as a means to process research findings. Miles and Huberman (1994) indicated that this approach "refers to the process of selecting, focusing, simplifying, abstracting, and transforming the data that appear in written-up field notes or transcriptions" (p.10). Data were analyzed individually and then across participant perspectives. Research findings were compared to the basic tenets of three alternative adult learning frameworks: andragogy, proficiency, and whole language. The findings of the study indicated that the cultural environment of educational climate was the key dimension which contributed to an optimal learning environment for Native literacy learners. The cultural environment components which emerged as influential included values, cooperation, and supportiveness. The findings relating to the learner milieu and learner outcomes are presented in the form of rich, narrative descriptions using the words of the Native adult learners. When the results were compared to the humanistic, holistic, and learner-centred frameworks of andragogy, proficiency, and whole language, research findings confirmed many of the tenets of these frameworks. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the program participants perceived the Employment Preparation Program to be one which was characterized as humanistic, learner-centred, holistic, and empowering. Future research needs to replicate the study to examine educational climate in different settings with participants from the same ethnic group to confirm the findings. Furthermore, the study may be replicated using different ethnic groups in order to generate comparative findings. There is also a need to refine the focus of educational climate to determine how the different components and elements of the social, instructional, and cultural environments interact to create a quality environment. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Date: 1995
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/10344

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