To download dissertations and theses, please click on the appropriate "Download" button for your campus to log in and be e-verified. When you reach the "Sign into your JWU email" page, enter your JWU username and password.

Non-JWU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

The Adaptive Military Transition Theory: Supporting Military Students in Academic Environments

Aynsley M Diamond, Johnson & Wales University


On August 1, 2009, a radically different and more financially generous GI Bill, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, took effect, with potential implication for institutions of higher education (Radford, 2009). In conjunction with expanded education benefits and the current drawdown of military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, institutions of higher education are ill-prepared to support the transition of a student population with comprehensive psychological, physiological, and social needs. A transition, broadly, is any event, or non-event, that results in changed relationships, routines, assumptions, and roles (Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995). Using Schlossberg's Adult Transition Theory (Schlossberg, 1981, 1984) as the initial lens, this study sought to describe the transitional experience and emergent transitional stages of military students enrolled at a community college in the Northeast. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, this two-phase mixed method design employed a sequential explanatory strategy employing a profile questionnaire and individual semi-structured interviews (N=11). Based on profile data, participants were purposefully selected for interviews representing the stages of Schlossberg's Adult Transition Theory. In the absence of dedicated research on military student development, an additional purpose of this study was to apply a grounded theory approach to support theory development. The goal of grounded theory is to generate a theory around a core category, which represents a pattern of behavior relevant for persons involved in the study (Beck, 2011, Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The research questions that guided the study were: (1) How do military students describe their transition experience from the military to higher education? (2) What is the transitional process that military students exhibit when acclimating to an academic environment? This research identified themes including participants' appreciation for the military, environmental acclimation, perceptions of academic environment, and their articulation of their futures. These themes identified and supported individual transition stages as they experienced environmental and cultural change. The findings of this study, the Adaptive Military Transition Theory, and its representative model, may provide staff, faculty, and administration with strategies that account for the myriad challenges that this population face as they transition from military to academic culture.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Military studies

Recommended Citation

Diamond, Aynsley M, "The Adaptive Military Transition Theory: Supporting Military Students in Academic Environments" (2012). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3504491.