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Native Pathways to Education
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Joseph David Blanchard, Ph.D. Department of Educational Foundations The University of New Mexico, 1973

The purpose of this study was to determine if biobehavioral correlates of PCM (WISC subtest) performance offered some promise in the diagnosis and prescription in the learning situation for Southwest Native American students. The need for an approach of this kind was predicated on the effectiveness of current testing and labeling practices in "Indian Education", and the fact that the Southwest Native American student who attends off- reservation boarding schools is generally disadvantaged. Disadvantaged is defined as that state of anomie (Spilka, 1970) and poverty, malnutrition and disease, and family disorganization which characterizes the student population used in this study.

The population of this research consisted of 116 Native American students attending the middle school (Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Grades). at Albuquerque Indian School, a federally operated off-reservation boarding school. Native American Tribes represented included members of the Rio Grande Pueblos, Mescalero Apache, Navajo, Ute, and Zuni Tribes. The students were selected on the basis of their representativeness as disadvantaged Native American students.

Tests administered include the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability (ITPA). A behavioral rating scale developed by Stott (1971) was used for teacher ratings of behaviors interfering with the learning process. Bio medical evaluations were accomplished under contract to Health Screening Services, Inc., Denver, with the able assistance of Indian Health Service. Health screening was accomplished using automated multiphasic health screening techniques. The system is transportable and health screening trailers were brought to Albuquerque Indian School for this purpose.

The data were analyzed using two multivariate techniques. The first analysis, an analysis of interdependency (Eysenck, 1967), was a factor analysis, orthogonal, varimax rotation developed and computerized by Nie and Associates (1970). The primary purpose of the factor analysis was an exploratory one (Cronbach 1967; Eysenck, 1967) aimed at discovering significant interdependencies among PCM and biobehavioral variables. The second analysis consisted of a series of stepwise regressions using the WISC subtests individually as dependent variables and the rest of the WISC subtests and the biobehavioral variables as independent variables. The basic purpose of the stepwise regressions was to choose independent variables which will provide the best prediction possible with the fewest independent variables (Nie, et al.).


Results of the factor analyses demonstrate the extraction of interdependencies among PCM and biobehavioral variables. The results of the stepwise regression analyses demonstrate that biobehavioral variables can be used to predict PCM performance. Regression analyses also demonstrate that biobehavioral variables discriminate among WISC subtests when significant variables are listed in order of predictive importance.

The research also demonstrates significant tribal differences on biobehavioral tests and suggests that tribal specific biosocial correlations of learning be investigated.

The data also suggest that Stott's (1971) behavioral classifications are valid and useful means for assessing behavioral disabilities detrimental to the learning process.

In general, the biobehavioral approach to the assessment of learning disabilities demonstrates promise and strongly suggests further research with Native American and other student populations.


On the basis of the findings in this research, the following recommendations are made.

  1. That further research be accomplished using a larger population of Native American students and a control group of non-Native American students. This research will validate and amplify the biosocial and behavioral correlates and put the position on a firmer foundation. Biochemical factors should receive special attention, both from medical and learning standpoints.
  2. That attention be given to further developing Stott's (Stott, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1970, 197la, 1971b) theories and behavioral rating scale with Native American students and teachers, including further validation of teacher rating effectiveness and requirements for teacher orientation in the use of this scale.
  3. That a Team of educators, psychologists, biochemists, physiologists, community health professionals, and medical doctors put their efforts together to establish a firm theoretical position specific to biobehavioral correlates of perceptual cognitive motor performance.
  4. That consideration be given to the development of standard biobehavioral screening procedures to be used in Bureau of Indian Affairs education. Further, that the requirements for establishing automated multiphasic health screening of Native American students be established.
  5. That intensive investigations of the requirements for orthomolecular interventions based on health screening results be established. Also, that research be accomplished further defining the appropriate biomedical variables, to include such variables as AIP, NAD, and others (Von Hilsheimer, Klotz, Philpott, 1971).
  6. That research establish remedial programs for the effective classroom teacher- operated remediation of behaviors interfering with learning using appropriate precision teaching (Kunzelmann, 1970).

Joseph David Blanchard earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1954 from New Mexico State University, and the Master of Arts Degree in 1958 from California State College at Los Angeles, California. His professional experience includes ten years as an applied research psychologist in the aerospace industry, six years of which were on the Apollo spacecraft project. For three years, he was counseling psychologist for the Albuquerque Indian School, BIA. For the past year and a half, he has been employed by the Indian Education Resources Center, Division of Student Services, BIA, as consultant psychologist for all BIA-operated schools in the nation.


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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
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Last modified March 12, 2008