Date of Conferral
Research shows that faculty, staff, and administrators at institutions of higher learning have a fundamental responsibility to create a safe and effective learning environment for returning military combat veterans. Studies of student veterans have shown that combat veterans have both unique strengths and barriers that must be taken into account if they are to complete an advanced degree. This study contributes to the literature on educational barriers faced by student veterans and their educators. Knowles' andragogy theory provided the theoretical framework for this transcendental-phenomenological research study. Ten randomly chosen student military veterans from Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington, participated in guided 60-minute interviews to discuss pedagogical tools and administrative actions found to be helpful or hindering to students' academic success. Interviews were recorded and transcribed for analysis, and participants' accounts of their experiences produced the textural and structural descriptions that led to identification of salient themes. The findings of this study revealed the Veterans' needs to feel respected and treated as competent adults. They needed community colleges to scaffold their cognitive, communal, and emotional needs; they also needed flexibility on attendance and assigned seating, faculty polices, and pedagogical offerings. Serious social problems can emerge if the educational needs of this at-risk student population are unaddressed. Social change will come as a result of scaffolding student veterans through a successful journey toward their desired goals. This process will enrich the lives of this population by opening the door to better jobs, higher pay, and a higher quality of life for both the student and his or her family.