Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When Learning Could Hurt: A Case Study of Student-Veterans And Their Combat Experiences in the Classroom
by Spurlin, Dale F., Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2014, 217; 3630186
Abstract (Summary)

Passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of combat-experienced veterans enrolling in institutions of higher learning. While these student-veterans bring unique perspectives to the classroom, they also face many challenges to their educational pursuits. Few educators are aware of how the effects of trauma or recalling combat experiences might support or hinder adult learning in the cognition, emotion, and social dimensions of learning. This qualitative multiple case study explored how combat experiences supported or hindered learning by graduate-level student-veterans within the content of the curriculum, as an incentive to learn the content of the curriculum, and for facilitating social interactions within the learning environment. Semi-structured interviews described how student-veterans perceived the use of their combat experiences within these three dimensions of learning. Ten purposefully drawn participants from graduate-level student-veteran volunteers attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas described a variety of military and educational experiences. Data were analyzed and coded using qualitative data analysis software to reveal themes within the perceptions of the participants and across participant cases. All participants described how their combat experiences supported their learning; eight of 10 described how their combat experiences hindered their learning. Themes supported the theoretical proposition that combat experiences could support student learning through the cognitive, emotional, and social interactions of student-veterans with the curriculum and other students. Participants also described how combat experiences and the military lifestyle could hinder learning in all three dimensions suggesting educators should consider adjusting instructional approaches for some student-veterans. Negative cases to the themes were reported. The study added to an understanding of Illeris' learning theory and the application of contemporary adult education models with graduate-level student-veterans. Recommendations for use of the findings in the classroom were made. Proposals for further research included case studies of student-veterans who have experienced flashbacks during instruction, student-veterans at the graduate and undergraduate level for further comparison, and other traumatized student groups such as law enforcement, medical, and first responders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fish, Wade W.
Commitee: Goodney Lea, Suzanne
School: Northcentral University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Adult education, Military studies
Keywords: Combat, Experiential learning, Graduate student, Student-veteran
Publication Number: 3630186
ISBN: 9781321079517
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