Removing the college involvement "research asterisk": Identifying and rethinking predictors of American Indian college student involvement

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The purpose of this study was to identify campus environmental predictors of American Indian college student involvement. The American Indian research asterisk, or not including American Indian data, has prevailed over student development research for decades. As a result, student affairs professionals have been limited in their ability to develop evidence-based student development interventions for American Indian student involvement. This study addressed the research asterisk related to American Indian college student involvement through a quantitative multi-institutional study of 99 campuses with a total of 1,931 American Indian respondents. This study confirms many prior research study findings with American Indian college students that were limited in scope and context and where findings lacked transferability. Several key findings emerged from this research study including the importance of pre-college involvement in high school academic clubs and holding leadership positions as significant predictors of college student involvement. Mentor relationships with faculty and student affairs staff were also significant predictors of American Indian student involvement indicating the importance of these types of interactions for this population. Most importantly, a sense of belonging for American Indian students was quantitatively confirmed as a significant predictor of American Indian student involvement. The concept of involvement, however, should not be limited by its historical on-campus context and should be viewed as a dynamic process whereby American Indian students are provided an opportunity to shape an involvement experience that helps to maintain their sense of self and identity while promoting a sense of belonging and collegiate success.