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Success factors that helped First Nation students complete their university degrees Boyer, Elvin M.

Abstract

This study explored those factors that contributed to the graduation rate of First Nations students who successfully completed an undergraduate degree. The purpose of this study was fourfold: (1) to create a profile of First Nations students who graduated from a university; (2) map out those experiences that either facilitated, or hindered the student's educational endeavors; (3) explore those variables, that defined how students overcame hindering factors; (4) to develop a grounded theory representative of students' educational achievements. The research method involved in-depth interviews with seven First Nations students, who received an undergraduate degree from a university, and were either from Vancouver, or were long-term residents of British Columbia. The students described: (a) their educational experiences, that contributed to the completion of their degrees; (b) factors that either facilitated, or hindered with their educational goals; (c) how students maneuvered to overcome obstacles, that were not helpful; and (d) those factors, that played a role in students' desire in completing their degree. Basic techniques, and procedures based on the grounded theory methodology conveyed a variety of factors that subsequently formed five major core categories leading to the students' graduation rates. Analysis of content, and verification of the categories were defined through coding techniques, and constant comparison methods that were grounded in the data. The results indicated that the students' success rates were the result of the following factors: Personal factors, sources of support, institutional factors, geographical factors, and overcoming barriers to success. The educational experiences that the students shared supports the notion that the transitional stage they must endeavor is a dynamic process, and reflects various dimensions. These dimensions were linked in a conceptual model that reflected the basic process of becoming whole, and maintaining balance within an environment that is sometimes conflicting, and contrary to the students' cultural values, and beliefs.

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