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Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM


UNSWORTH, Sara J., Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4611, RIGGS, Eric M., College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University, Room 202, Eller O&M Building, MS 3148 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843 and ROBBINS, Eleanora I., Department of Geological Sciences, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-1020,

Native American communities exercise sovereign control over natural resources within reservation boundaries. Despite the deep cultural connection many Native Americans have with the Earth, Native American students remain severely under-represented in the Earth sciences. The Sharing the Land project is an effort to increase representation of Native American students in the Earth sciences by providing field-based, culturally-grounded geoscience education for Native American students in the InterTribal Youth program. To assess program effectiveness, we conducted surveys to assess changes in science epistemology, concepts of self, concepts of Earth, cultural identity, and motivation toward college and advanced science education. Surveys were conducted at the beginning and end of the program. While many of the survey items required participants to choose a response from a set of possible options (e.g., circling a number on a Likert scale that corresponds to level of agreement with certain statements), some items required more open-ended responses (e.g., Complete the statement “I am…”). Open-ended responses were coded to identify emerging themes. T-tests, correlations, and regression analyses were conducted to compare responses before and after the InterTribal Youth program and to identify relationships between types of responses.

The results from the surveys show that 1) greater interconnectedness between concepts of self, Earth, culture and science predicts motivation toward college and advanced science education, and 2) we are successfully facilitating these relationships within our program. At the end of our program, Native American youth were more likely to think that their tribe uses science to manage natural resources and that their tribe has always used science, and these beliefs are related to higher self-confidence, stronger beliefs that they will go to college, and stronger beliefs that they can do science and live their cultural way of life at the same time. At the end of our program Native American youth were also more likely to think that Earth and rocks make them who they are (above and beyond a range of possible items to choose from, including plants, animals, food, and artifacts), and these beliefs were associated with a greater likelihood to think that they will be scientists when they are adults.

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