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For Native American college students, victimization and substance use have a perceived impact on academic performance

A recent study examined the rates of victimization and substance use among Native American students in comparison to other students and assessed the perceived impact of these experiences on academics. A secondary analysis of data was conducted from data collected as part of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and National College Health Assessment (NCHA). Participants (N = 2,103) included a sample of Native American undergraduate students. A series of chi-square analyses were used to (a) examine rates of victimization among Native American college students compared with students of other ethnicities; (b) explore the various types of victimization experienced by Native American college students; (c) examine rates of substance use among Native American college students compared with students of other ethnicities; and (d) determine whether victimization and substance use have a perceived impact on academic performance for Native American students. Results showed Native American students had the highest rates of being physically assaulted (8.1%), verbally threatened (30.4%), and stalked (11.7%). Furthermore, Native American students, Black students, and biracial or multiracial students all reported the highest rates of rape (2.3%). Substance use, including alcohol use, marijuana use, and other drug use, differed significantly by ethnic group. Native American students reported the second highest rates of other drug use (6.5%), following biracial or multiracial students (7.9%), and the third highest rates of alcohol use (59.9%) and marijuana use (15.6%). Males and females reported similar rates of alcohol use and other drug use within the past 30 days across all ethnicities; however, males had the highest rates of marijuana use within the past 30 days in comparison to females, regardless of ethnicity. Furthermore, Native American students were most likely to report that alcohol use (6.1%), physical assaults (1.6%), and sexual assaults (1.8%) adversely affected their academics. They also reported the second highest rates of drug use having a negative impact on academics (2.1%), following biracial or multiracial students (2.8%). Across all ethnicities, males and females reported similar rates of alcohol use affecting their academics. Results of regression analyses indicated a significant perceived impact of drug use on academics among Native American males (p < .05). They also indicated a significant perceived impact of alcohol use on academics among Native American females (p < .05). In both cases, it is the perception that drug and alcohol use negatively impacts academics that predicts GPA, rather than the actual drug and alcohol use variables.

Take away: Native American students reported the second highest rates of other drug use and the third highest rates of alcohol and marijuana use. In addition, Native American students perceived their experiences with substance use as an impediment to their academic performance.

Fish, J., Livingston, J. A., VanZile-Tamsen, C., & Wolf, D. A. P. S. (2017). Victimization and Substance Use Among Native American College Students. Journal of College Student Development58(3), 413-431.

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