Thriving Communities Working Paper

Impact of the Academic-Social Context on American Indian/Alaska Native Students’ Academic Performance

American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students have the highest dropout rates of any racial or ethnic group. This study posits that a poor academic–social context (ASC) contributes to a low grade point average, which in turn negatively affects AI/AN students’ persistence to graduation. The present study compares the self-reported academic performance of AI/AN undergraduate students with that of students from other ethnic backgrounds to evaluate whether variation in students’ ASC and any identified medical conditions differentially affect AI/AN students’ academic performance. Findings suggest that AI/AN students enter college with poorer ASC and have lower grade point averages. This study points to the importance of further investigations into the effects of social contexts on AI/AN students’ academic achievement and retention in college.

Project: Native Assets 


Patterson, D. A., & Butler-Barnes, S. T. (2015). Impact of the academic-social context on American Indian/Alaska Native students’ academic performance (CSD Working Paper No. 15-02). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.