American Indian Students' Difficulties in Introduction to Psychology

Kathryn Johnson, Morris A. Okun, Myranda Benallie, Sara Pennak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Earning passing grades in first year, introductory college courses is one key to academic success in higher education. Using archival and survey data from one Southwestern university, in Study 1, we found that ethnic differences in failing versus passing were greater in Introduction to Psychology than in Early American History, World Religions, and Introduction to Sociology. In Study 2, we showed that the gap between overall university grade point average and Introduction to Psychology course grade was greater for American Indian students than for European American, Asian American, and Hispanic students. In Study 3, this disparity was reduced but not eliminated when controlling for several academic and demographic variables. In Study 4, an exploratory survey revealed that, relative to European American students, American Indian students were more likely to report that Introduction to Psychology was difficult due to large class sizes, issues related to multiple-choice testing, and the amount (but not the difficulty) of information covered. American Indian students also were much less likely to articulate strategies for success such as memorization techniques, class attendance, or daily studying, but recommended supplemental instruction obtained in small study groups. Implications for enhancing the academic success of all students in this challenging first-year course are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • American Indian
  • academic achievement
  • college students
  • multicultural education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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