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Military student participation in distance learning

Neil A Lewis, Johnson & Wales University


The purpose of this study was to investigate factors related to military student participation in distance learning and, thereby, gain greater understanding and awareness of this delivery system. The study utilized a mixed methods approach and employed a single military war college, located in New England, as the research site. One question guided this study: To what extent and in what manner do selected personal and institutional factors relate to student participation levels in distance learning at a military war college? Data collection techniques included a mailed questionnaire to distance learning students (n = 200), in-depth interviews with all the distance learning administrators (N = 5), and focus groups with distance learning users (n = 15). Questionnaire data, returned by 112 students (return rate = 56%), were grouped into five independent variables: demographics, personal experiences with distance technology, attitudes toward distance learning, perceptions of what motivates participation in distance learning, and perceptions about institutional support for distance learning. The dependent variable was student participation levels in distance learning (the total of past, current, and anticipated distance learning courses taken). Descriptive statistics (frequencies, percents, means, and standard deviations) were computed for each variable. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the magnitude of the relationship between participation in distance learning and the independent variables. The cluster of questions on attitudes toward distance learning was significantly related to student participation, but the other factors showed no significant relationship. The interviews and the focus groups resulted in useful information. On the basis of the study findings, these recommendations were made: (1) Military war colleges should consider providing more distance learning courses to military students, particularly to serve those in remote areas throughout the world. (2) Military war college administrators should continually evaluate their distance learning programs to identify areas for improvement. (3) Military war colleges should seek collaborative opportunities among themselves to address measures to improve military distance learning programs. (4) Further research should examine participation levels in distance learning at similar military colleges, particularly with regard to student attitudes, and should expand the sample population to include undergraduate students.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational software|Armed forces

Recommended Citation

Lewis, Neil A, "Military student participation in distance learning" (2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234950.