Date of Conferral







Donna Russell


Many combat veterans are returning with what has been labeled the signature injury of nearly 2 decades of wars, traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI injuries can alter cognitive abilities, memory, behavior, and emotions, all of which can vary in intensity and can affect learning. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain additional insight from the perspective of the veteran student on the learning challenges experienced in online classrooms when suffering from TBI. The conceptual framework for this study was (a) Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy, (b) Zimmerman’s theories on the relationship between TBI and learning, and (c) Schlossberg’s transition theory. The research questions explored the lived experiences of TBI veterans who participated in online college or university courses, their perceptions of their learning experiences, and the use of technology in the classrooms. Data gathered from 6 participants during telephone interviews were evaluated for themes and patterns. The 3 themes identified were (a) the physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that these participants experienced as a result of the TBI, (b) the ways that these participants mitigated these changes in order to succeed in their online courses, and (c) the interactions that they described within the classroom. A recommendation resulting from this study was the need for higher education programs to address the unique learning needs of TBI students. Positive social change resulting from the knowledge obtained from the study can help educators and administrators adjust or create policies and programs to better assist TBI students in online classrooms.