Higher education can expect to serve more than two million military veterans in the coming years (American Council on Education, 2008; Cook & Kim, 2009). However, research about military veteran students in post-secondary education that can guide good practice and promote student success is lacking, and college and university administration, faculty, and staff may lack a solid understanding of the strengths and challenges of this student subpopulation.
This study focused on veterans who have served or are serving in the military during recent conflicts in which our U.S. military has been involved. The purpose of this study was to explore the academic motivation and academic self-concept of these students in relation to their demographic characteristics, educational experience, and military experience, with, as a context, an understanding of the unique transitions they make between the military and civilian worlds.
This quantitative study employed the use of a web survey, which was a compilation of instruments, including a personal data form, the Academic Motivation Scale (Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Brière, Senécal, & Vallières, 1992), the Academic Self-Concept Scale (Reynolds, Ramírez, Magriña, & Allen, 1980), and the Combat Exposure Scale (Keane, Fairbank, Zimering, Taylor, & Mora, 1989). Results of this study suggest that combat exposure was not related to academic motivation or academic self-concept. However, academic motivation, as well as its subscales, was found to be moderately to strongly related to academic self-concept and many of its subscales. The study provided evidence that select demographic, educational, and military variables can explain proportions of variances in academic motivation (including intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation) and academic self-concept.
This study aimed to contribute to the literature on military veteran students and to be a guide for both academic and student affairs professionals, and faculty in higher education, by moving away from a deficit model, and instead presenting military veterans' strengths as they meet the challenges of attending and succeeding in college. In addition, better understanding this population of students will allow for promoting access and success based on improved services, programming, policy, and administration across institutions.