Publications and Presentations

The Fish Weir Challenge: A Culturally Relevant Engineering Design

Navickis-Brasch, A. S., Numkena, N., & Kern, A. L. (2014) Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) North-west and Far-west Regional Conference with National Science Teacher Association Regional Business Meeting. Long Beach, CA.

How Land Use Change, Changed Culture

Navickis-Brasch, A. S., Kern, A. L., Cadwell, J. R., Laumatia, L., & Fielder, F. (2013). How Land Use Change, Changed Culture. 120th American Society For Engineerin
g Education (ASEE) Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA

The focus of this paper is to describe and demonstrate how utilization of the Curricular Framework Flow Chart organized various topics that form the structure for the BTTE integrated curriculum. This is done by first providing background regarding the impact of historical land use changes on the tribal communities, and how improving STEM education can support preservation and restoration of their aboriginal land.  Since the program began in the fall of 2012, this paper only presents the theoretical Curriculum Framework Flow Chart, its initial application, and then describes how the research team plans to utilize it for ongoing communication and curriculum development with the tribes. This paper also addresses lessons learned in designing and delivering a tribal community-based educational initiative. Finally, a discussion of how the Curriculum Framework Flow Chart could be extended for use amongst other tribal communities and cultures is considered.

Community Engagement in Engineering Education Division-Best Paper Award,

the Professional Interest Council III (PIC III)-Best Paper Award,

and nominated for the Best Conference Paper Award.

Building community for STEM education for cultural preservation

Laumatia, L., & Kern, A. L. (2013). Building community for STEM education and cultural preservation. Association for Educational Research, Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.     

Connection with the landscape has been a critical cornerstone of a Native sense of identity, and a necessity for maintaining both sovereignty and land preservation/restoration. Native communities are at a critical point in educating their youth. Traditionally “Western” methods of instruction leave Native students feeling disengaged and disenfranchised (Adamuti-Trache, 2007; Bang & Medin, 2010; Cajete, 1988). In response to the need to connect Tribal youth with STEM education in a way that is meaningful and relevant, a three-year project was developed to deliver a culturally-based STEM education program focused on place for students on the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane reservations. The program was conceived at the request of, and in partnership with, Tribal stakeholders in order to understand how various groups perceived the significance and culture of STEM in their communities. This presentation focuses on the Back to the Earth’s (BTTE) opening retreat for the project. Bringing together Tribal members, educators and staff, University of Idaho faculty and affiliates, and grant team members the thirty-seven retreat participants responded to a series of questions regarding the significance of culture and STEM in their community. The survey responses are being used to inform how STEM and culture will be integrated in the BTTE project.


Teacher and community collaboration: A need for a culturally congruent STEM curriculum

Howard, M. A., Galbreath M. A., Navickis-Brasch, A. S., & Kern, A. L. (2013). Teacher and community collaboration: A need for a culturally congruent STEM curriculum. National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Annual Conference, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.     
(click for full paper)

As tribes depend upon their sovereign power to entrust the well-being of their people and land, “It is the belief of tribal educators that formal education is the missing link that would insure the survival of tribal lifestyles and protection of tribal homelands.” (Red Owl, 1992, p. 595). Given that Indian tribes own nearly 5% of all land in the region, this sovereignty is a significant force in natural resource policy for the protection of those homelands (Wilkinson, 1992). However, few Natives are in the positions creating and enforcing these policies. Instead, tribes largely rely on a skilled and educated workforce outside of their communities to lead these positions. In response tribes are attempting to garner interest in their youth to become educated in STEM fields so that they may be entrusted with the homelands of their ancestors (Berardi et al., 2003). This will require students to be not only adequately prepared to graduate from their K-12 education, but also be successful in higher education.

Although there is substantial evidence pointing toward the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and cultural elements in the classroom for AI students, it is unknown how often culturally relevant instructional practices are used by their teachers and what barriers may exist in doing so. Therefore, the focus on this paper is to answer the following question: ‘How do teachers at a public school on a Plateau Indian Reservation articulate cultural relevance in their everyday classrooms?’ This will first be addressed by exploring current literature on the topic and then offering a presentation of a survey given to teachers of AI students regarding culturally congruent instruction. Lastly this will be followed by the survey results and recommendations for future research.


Engaging American Indian communities in STEM Education

Galbreath M. A.,& Kern, A. L. (2013). Engaging American Indian communities in STEM education. Association for Science Teacher Educators, Charleston, SC.     
(click for full paper)

Currently, in the United States there is a great focus on the need to “enlarge the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, or mathematics” (National Academies, 2006, p. 6). One of the primary obstacles to growing the pipeline is the lack of student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), particularly for students from underrepresented groups (Lynch, 2000). American Indian students are especially underrepresented in post-secondary education, in particular in STEM disciplines. In addition, American Indian students are among the most underserved and underrepresented by traditional curriculum materials and instructional approaches. There exists a critical need to address science education for American Indian students by promoting respect for native ways of knowing and exploring educational models that better align with native cultures.

Students in this study live on two neighboring American Indian reservations. There are major educational issues for youth on these reservations. They should a cumulative dropout rate of 60% to 68% and lower than average achievement scores in mathematics, science, and literacy for their 8th grade students. Additionally, families on those reservation communities suffer from a low socio-economic status, 66% and 75% are economically disadvantaged respectively (Local School Report Cards, 2011). These communities recognized this as a problem and came to the University to help facilitate in building a representative workforce to maintain tribal sovereignty. The Back to the Earth (BTTE) project was collaboratively created in response.