Connors State College Psychology Professor, Dr. Gary Grady, will present a poster on his Native American College Students’ Self-Esteem research at the Oklahoma Network for the Teaching of Psychology conference at Oklahoma State University on Friday. The presentation will cover Grady’s six-year research project designed to determine why the number of Native Americans enrolled in college is low.
“I was curious as to why few Native American high school graduates go to college,” said Grady. “Only 18 percent of Native American high school graduates go to college, compared to 42 percent of Caucasians and 32 percent of African Americans.”
Approximately 30% of Connors’ students are Native Americans and Connors has ranked as high as 12th in the nation in getting Native American college students a degree. With a large native student population it seemed that Connors was perfectly situated to study the issue.
“Three hundred and ninety-five of my students have participated in the research over the last six years,” said Grady. “I hypothesized that one of the reasons for low college enrollment among Native Americans is low self-esteem. The findings of my research were surprising.”
Contrary to his hypothesis, the self-esteem levels of Connors Native American students was actually higher than the non-native students and the results showed that native parents do a better job of the parenting skills correlated with self-esteem.
“I am now gathering data from Native American adults who have never attended college, to see if their self-esteem levels are lower – thus a possible explanation as to why they didn’t go to college,” Grady said. “I am also arranging to spend time on a Native American reservation in Nebraska to gather data from the people who live on the reservation, to compare it to Native American adults who live off-reservation.”
Grady will present his findings to high school through graduate school psychology teachers.
“OSU is particularly interested in my research because they have the only Native Americans in Psychology program in the country,” he said. “We need to get more Native American students to study psychology in graduate school. Studies such as mine are a first step in obtaining that goal.”