Academic and social engagement in various online-delivery formats for military veteran students
Ridenour, Rodney Ross
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This qualitative study explored the social and academic engagement experiences of military veteran students in various online-delivery formats at a small, rural university. There are very few studies describing the experiences of veteran students in online formats in higher education. The researcher interviewed eight military veteran students from different military branches. The participants had a range of prior educational backgrounds. The students had taken several types of online-delivery classes in their coursework and had completed their requirements for bachelor's degrees using online education. Several themes emerged from the engagement in different online formats. The study found student-veterans enjoyed the flexibility to study around their work schedules and being in online classes, which have more nontraditional students. The learning management system provided easy interaction with other students and opportunities to meet with faculty during virtual office hours. Learning and adapting to newer technologies was a negative part of some online formats. Some online formats stressed more written engagement while hybrid formats provided live engagement with other students and instructors. Veteran students liked more interaction from instructors in technical classes, but too much engagement added little value to many classes. The findings of the study indicate veteran students enjoyed engagement with other nontraditional students and instructors who participate in discussions. Negative themes that emerged were online classes with lack of student or instructor involvement and certain online-delivery formats being poor choices for certain subjects and learning styles. Limitations of this study are that it is a small, qualitative study with participants who all successfully fulfilled the requirements for their degrees. This study provides insights on positive and negative engagement experiences of veteran students in different online-delivery formats.