The motivation for the Honoring the Whole Student Workbook is to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) faculty the support and tools needed to reflect on their instructional, mentorship, and teaching practices—individually or within a community of learners. The goal is for STEM faculty to foster a deeper understanding of how to more dynamically support Native American students. The activities in this workbook are intended to generate conversation and reflection about the challenges faced by, and world views of, Native American STEM students.

This workbook also responds to the broader deficit narratives about Native American students. As scholars from underrepresented groups, we are committed to promoting asset-based language and narratives about Native American students. As the workbook provides a narrow cross section of potential scenarios as thought-provoking activities, it is important to not assume that all Native American students have the same experiences in higher education, or will require the same type of support. Furthermore, it is damaging to view this workbook as all-encompassing of Native American identities and lived experiences.

Native American students are not monolithic and represent a broad spectrum of diversity—as indicated by their gender identity, ability status, tribal affiliation, regional upbringing, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We advocate for listening to your students’ needs, and problem-solving issues together when they arise.

Recognizing Your Professional Development

Once you have completed the workbook and activities, please fill out the online survey about your experiences and receive a personalized letter from the Michigan State University Native American Institute that recognizes your professional development efforts.

Considerations for Workbook Use

We envision this workbook being used by STEM faculty and academic staff interested in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues, with a specific focus on Native American student populations.

This workbook may be used to supplement the work of faculty and academic staff already actively engaging in DEI learning. This workbook is also intended for use by individuals looking for resources on supporting Native American students, more broadly. Lastly, we would like to highlight that engaging with this workbook requires the learner to approach these activities in an authentic and culturally humble way.

Creative Commons License

Honoring the Whole Student: Developing Space for Native American Students in STEM by Supporting Complex Identities by The Native American Institute at Michigan State University, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

You must give appropriate credit, and indicate if changes were made. You may make and share changes as indicated, but not in a way that suggests The Native American Institute endorses you or your use. You may not
use the material for commercial purposes. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Suggested Attribution

Poitra, C., Kolonich, A., Smythe, W. & Tyler, Q. (2020). Honoring the Whole Student: Developing Space for Native American Students in STEM by Supporting Complex Identities. East Lansing, MI: Native American Institute.


The Honoring the Whole Student workbook was made possible by support from the National Science Foundation (GEO-1934830). The concept of the workbook was influenced by the 2019 Honoring the Whole Student: Developing Good Practices for Supporting the Intersectionality of Diverse Undergraduate Students in Geoscience workshop. We would like to thank the workshop attendees for their participation and our tribal community hosts.


We are also grateful for the knowledge of the Indigenous graduate students (Antoinette Shirley, Aimee Baier, and Angie Shinos) who provided feedback on this workbook.