IAIA Plans to Improve Learning Success

Nov 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News

When second-year student and peer-tutor Celeste Worl (Tlingit) returned to college this fall at The Institute of American Indian Arts, she found herself at a very different place. IAIA’s new, 140acre campus site south of downtown Santa Fe is surrounded by breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east, the Sandia Mountains to the South, and the Jemez range to the West. The college address at 83 Avan Nu Po (“Water Serpent” in the local Tewa language) describes more than the curving ribbon of road that winds its way, like the mythical creature of Tewa lore, to the high desert campus: It represents the first time in its 37-year history that the institute can claim a home of its own.

And when Cody begins to tutor students in reading and writing, she will find something else new: a fully staffed learning support program devoted to tutoring and mentoring in the critical skills of English and math. A five-year Department of Education Title III grant funds the program, NATIVE CIRCLE.

NATIVE CIRCLE is a multi-layered program with a single aim: increase student retention through improving student learning success. It takes a culturally invigorated approach to counseling, mentoring, and student assessment. This learning strategy will rely upon an intense academic tracking system at the Institute, measuring student outcomes against specific program objectives and against comparable external criteria like the Tribal College Performance Indicators proposed by AIHEC.

Students are matched with peer tutors and mentors and then guided through an integrated series of support systems centered on the faculty, centralized in a computerized Learning Lab, and designed to promote academic success. With the aid of remedial specialists, peer tutors are trained to assist learning and employ modern technologies geared to support learning disabilities. “NATIVE CIRCLE hopes to  broaden  campus-wide involvement in positive, healthy, and productive behavior,” according to Project Coordinator Richard Tobin. It will be a model for learning and living, he said.

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