Tracks Research Report
Montana Tech of the University Of Montana
In April of 1999, Montana Tech was awarded a TRACKS research mini-grant.† The grant allowed for the university to do a qualitative study on Native American satisfaction with the campus.† The Registrarís office provided the study with a database of every Native American who attended Montana Tech in the last five years.† A survey instrument was developed, see appendix for example, and mailed to each person in the database.† The initial mailing resulted in nine returned surveys.† Addresses were then cross-checked to the addresses in the Alumni office and also against the local Native American Indian Alliance database.† The second mailing yielded an additional ten returns.† Although this return rate is less than ideal, the responses on the surveys shed light on some important issues facing Montana Tech right now.† The two strongest issues are† (1) improving the recruitment efforts targeted at Native Americans and (2) providing a stronger support network for students in order to improve retention.
The survey found that the Native American students who are at Montana Tech are not predominantly from reservation based communities.† Of the 150 students surveyed, 24 were from reservation towns, 21 were from non-reservation towns, 7 were out of state, and the other 93 students were from Butte.† It is evident that Montana Tech should be working more closely with our local Indian alliance and connecting with the American Indians right here in our own community.† At this time no extra programs or efforts are being made to connect with the American Indians in Butte.†††
The Montana Tech admissions office makes annual visits to reservation high schools, yet the survey indicates that the average age of Montana Tech Native American students is 35.† What that tells Montana Tech is that we need to concentrate more recruitment efforts at the tribal college level and prioritize the continual updating of articulation agreements with the tribal colleges.
Of the 19 students who responded 42% graduated from Montana Tech.† The similarities found in graduates were; they all used the learning center, 7 were AISES members and 1 was an athlete.† It is clear, the students who made use of the resources on campus have a better retention rate.† The social connections students make to campus have an impressive factor on matriculation.† Montana Tech needs to do more to connect students to campus and with each other.†† Last year Montana Tech established a Bridge Program.† This Bridge Program should help make that connection for our traditional students.† The AISES student chapter is a good vehicle to connect the non-traditional students with each other, at this time the chapter needs to build a stronger public image so students are aware they are here.†
In conclusion, the TRACKS research project showed Montana Tech needs to build stronger relations with local Native Americans and with the tribal colleges, and connect students with both social and academic support networks earlier. ††In December of 1997 Montana Tech was granted $20,000 from the ARCO foundation to establish a support program for Native Americans.† This program, Succeeding Students in Engineering Programs (STEP), has been very successful in itís first two years and is acting upon the priorities the TRACKS project outlined.† The results of this survey will be used as baseline data in future proposals to secure the sustainability of STEP.††