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The Effects of Military Experience on Civic Consciousness

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Richard E Cox
Abstract:
This study explores how U. S. military service changes veterans' civic values and behaviors. America faces a loss of civic consciousness, which may be defined as an individual sense of duty to society. Public participation has declined in civic activities ranging from voting to volunteering. A better understanding of veterans, who are approximately 7% of the general population, may provide insights to assist educators, government and community planners, and social scientists in strengthening civic values and participation in greater society. Service providers may apply insights from this study in programs designed to meet veterans' needs for wellness and lifelong human development. The study was conducted in the context of Mezirow's theory of transformative learning. The main research question addressed how U. S. military training and experience changed veterans' civic mindedness and related behaviors. The study used a qualitative grounded theory approach with 22 theoretically-sampled veterans. During in-depth interviews, they discussed how their military experiences affected their values and behaviors. Data was acquired and interpreted through repeated cycles of theoretical sampling, constant comparative analysis, and increasingly refined, integrated coding and memoing. The study presented a theory that serving in the U.S. All-Volunteer Force tends to develop and strengthen positive social values in veterans who experience challenging leadership, learning, and values-immersion experiences. Lessons developed in this study may help promote positive social change by suggesting policies, strategies, learning programs, and further research for increasing civic consciousness in society generally.

Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study .................................................................................. 1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1 Background of the Problem ............................................................................................ 3 Social Identity ............................................................................................................. 4 Effects of Military Experience .................................................................................... 9 Statement of the Problem .............................................................................................. 11 Purpose of the Study ..................................................................................................... 12 Conceptual Framework for the Study ........................................................................... 12 Research Questions ....................................................................................................... 15 Significance of the Study and Social Change Implications .......................................... 16 Definition of Terms....................................................................................................... 17 Scope, Assumptions, and Limitations ........................................................................... 18 Scope ......................................................................................................................... 18 Assumptions .............................................................................................................. 20 Limitations ................................................................................................................ 21 Nature of the Study ....................................................................................................... 21 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 22

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Chapter 2: Literature Review ............................................................................................ 24 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 24 Civic Engagement ......................................................................................................... 25 Education and Community ........................................................................................... 28 Intersections of Military and Civilian Values ............................................................... 32 Systems Models for Learning ....................................................................................... 35 Adult Learning .......................................................................................................... 35 Transformative Learning .......................................................................................... 37 Learning Across the Lifespan ................................................................................... 46 Constructivist Learning Theory ................................................................................ 50 Social Capital and Military Professionalism in America .............................................. 54 American Values and Military Values .......................................................................... 56 Motivations for Joining Military Service ...................................................................... 61 Values and Attitudes ..................................................................................................... 63 Effects of Military Service ............................................................................................ 65 Literature of the Research Methodology ...................................................................... 67 Foundations for Selection of Grounded Theory Methodology ................................. 67 Evolution of Grounded Theory Methodology for this Study.................................... 80 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 84

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Chapter 3: Methodology ................................................................................................... 87 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 87 Consideration of Alternative Research Methods .......................................................... 89 Research Method and Design of the Study ................................................................... 90 Participants ................................................................................................................ 99 Instrumentation ....................................................................................................... 100 Data Collection Procedures ..................................................................................... 102 Data Analysis .......................................................................................................... 106 Trustworthiness ........................................................................................................... 110 Pilot Study ................................................................................................................... 111 Themes .................................................................................................................... 112 Motivations ............................................................................................................. 112 Civic Mindedness.................................................................................................... 113 Role of Researcher ...................................................................................................... 113 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 115 Chapter 4: Presentation and Analysis of Data ................................................................ 117 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 117 Data Collection and Analysis...................................................................................... 119 Demographic Attributes of Participants .................................................................. 119

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Theoretical Sampling and Analysis ........................................................................ 123 Results ......................................................................................................................... 130 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 130 Major Reasons for Change ...................................................................................... 134 Personal Attributes Gained as Result of Changes During Military Service ........... 202 Summary of Transformative Outcomes of Military Service ...................................... 225 Trustworthiness of Results .......................................................................................... 231 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 235 Chapter 5: Interpretations, Implications, and Recommendations ................................... 244 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 244 Interpretation of Findings ........................................................................................... 246 The Grounded Theory ............................................................................................. 246 Research Questions ................................................................................................. 250 Limitations of the Study.............................................................................................. 270 Implications for Social Change ................................................................................... 272 Recommendations for Action ..................................................................................... 273 Recommendations for Further Study .......................................................................... 274 Further Development of the Grounded Theory ...................................................... 274 Evaluation With Respect to Intrinsic Motivation Theory ....................................... 275

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Researcher's Experience ............................................................................................. 277 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 279 References ....................................................................................................................... 282 Appendix: Interview Protocol ........................................................................................ 293 Curriculum Vitae ............................................................................................................ 302

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List of Tables Table 1 Demographic Attributes of Participants ............................................................ 120

Table 2 Initial Codes from First Round of Theoretical Sampling ................................. 124

Table 3 Mapping of Interview Questions to Research Questions .................................. 300

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List of Figures

Figure 1: Theoretical Framework ..................................................................................... 71 Figure 2. Key Participant Attributes .............................................................................. 121 Figure 3 Evaluation of Changes from Leadership, Learning, and Values Immersion .. 227 Figure 4 Transformative Learning Theory Model......................................................... 248 Figure 5 Relative Impacts of Values Experiences ......................................................... 249 Figure 6 Overall Transformative Learning Effects ....................................................... 254

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Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study Introduction America is facing a loss of civic consciousness, which may be defined as an individual sense of duty to society (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 2008, pp. xv–xviii). Public participation has declined in civic activities ranging from voting to volunteering (Putnam, 2000, pp. 183–185). Reasons given for not voting in elections include too much effort or time required, disinterest in public matters, and dislike of candidates (Giddens, Dunier, and Appelbaum, 2005, p. 382). The concept of community has taken on new, often less-personal, meanings in the Internet age where web forums may link thousands of participants in informal, often anonymous, networks. In cases where these forums supplement or foster relationships built around shared interests, they might actually serve to deepen the traditional ways of serving public needs. For electronic forums that users visit intermittently but form no permanent relationships and make no commitments to achieving public needs, however, they may identify themselves with such communities, contribute little, and establish no sense of intimacy or trust with other participants. (Putnam & Feldstein, 2003, pp. 234– 235). If a participant has 500 Facebook correspondents, does that person really have 500 friends? Is this a community capable of aligning with and reaching shared goals? Cohill and Kavanaugh (2000 as cited in Putnam and Feldstein 2003) reported an experience in Blacksburg, Virginia: When you overlay an electronic community directly on top of a physical community, that creates a very powerful social pressure to be civil. If you’re going to yell at somebody on the ‘net’, or flame them out, you may run into them at the grocery store,

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and they may turn out to be your neighbor. Alloys of face-to-face and e-based ties can sustain social capital. (Cohill & Kavenaugh, 2000 in Putnam & Feldstein, 2004, p. 235) How can this trend of declining civic consciousness be reversed? Should it be reversed? This study pursues one area of inquiry, the effect of military experience on civic values. A review of literature for this study has revealed limited understanding of such effects. Although quantitative studies of veterans since World War II have found some evidence that military experience does increase the propensity to vote in federal elections and to feel supportive of the Armed Forces, a significant knowledge gap exists. As discussed in more detail in chapter 2, little research outside of studies for military recruiting has addressed the deeper qualitative aspects of veterans’ motivations for joining the U.S. All-Volunteer Force approved by Congress and initiated in 1973 (Rostker, 2006, p. 745). Also little research has addressed values changes during military service for that majority of veterans who do not experience traumatizing physical or psychological injuries during combat. By not explicitly including combat-injured veterans, this study focuses on the effects of living in the corporate cultures unique to the modern Armed forces. A theory is needed to explain the impact of this intense civic experience—military service—on veterans’ values and propensity for lifelong public service. The results of the pilot study for this dissertation (Cox, 2008) suggest that some people choose military service because they have developed a motivating sense of civic consciousness through prior life experience. Thus, a goal of this study will be to evaluate the origins and development of civic consciousness among participants, as well as the effect of military

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experience as an originator and further developer. Another goal is to suggest lessons learned from veterans that may help to strengthen civic consciousness in other segments of society and aid service providers for veterans. A better understanding of veterans, who are approximately 7% of the population (U.S. Department of the Census, 2010), may provide insights to assist educators, government and community planners, and social scientists in strengthening civic values and participation in other segments of society. Service providers may apply insights from this study in programs designed to meet veterans’ needs for wellness and lifelong human development. The study is framed in the context of Mezirow's (1991, 2000) theory of transformative learning and the theory of adult learning by Knowles, Holton III, and Swanson (2005). The broad research question addresses how veterans are changed by U.S. military training and experience—to what extent are veterans more likely to participate in civic behaviors? The study employs a qualitative grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2007) with 20 to 30 veterans selected using a theoretical sampling methodology. The researcher will conduct a depth interview with each veteran to explore how they understand that their military experiences have affected their self-perceived civic values and behaviors. Background of the Problem An overarching objective of this study is to understand the extent to which successful military veterans view themselves as committed, responsible members of U.S. society with obligations, expectations, and desires to contribute to the general good through constructive civic behaviors. Accordingly, the study explores how participants interpret their social identities and how they define their memberships and roles in society. The

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study also investigates participants’ interpretations of their military experiences and resulting changes to their values and social identities. Successful military veterans are defined in this study as those presently serving in the active or reserve components and those who were honorably discharged or transferred to the retired roles. This study does not address veterans who were imprisoned or discharged from service for violations of the law. It does not address homeless or other disadvantaged subpopulations of veterans. Much is sometimes made in news media and election campaigns of the public-service value of military experience in veterans seeking high-profile public offices. The implications are that this experience has equipped them with character, abilities, and wisdom needed for understanding and leadership on issues that affect policy in defense, foreign affairs, and other areas of public interest. Less noted, however, are the implications of military experience for low-profile veterans living quietly in communities nationwide. This study adds to understanding of how military service may help develop positive, lifelong citizenship values and behaviors in veterans at all levels of community involvement from voting to volunteering where veteran status is simply a fact of ordinary life, not a newsworthy or gainfully leveraged feature or an attribute of a candidate seeking public favor. Social Identity Social identity is a key indicator of civic consciousness. People with high levels of civic consciousness are more aware of their communities and feel a greater sense of responsibility to those communities. They value the good of the community enough to participate in its activities and processes. Dewey (1916/2004) observed that people live

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in communities defined by communication and awareness of shared interests, attributes, experiences, and goals (p. 4). For Dewey, community is an intrinsically social, highly interconnected phenomenon that “exists in communication” (p. 4). The members of this community are aware of common, or community, goals, they want to achieve the goals, and they engage in behaviors designed to achieve the goals (p. 5). Dewey observed that mere proximity of individuals to one another in a particular place does not define a community, but rather it is communication that produces the coherent interactions and integrations of beliefs, values, interests, and goals inherent in communities. In addition, “A book or letter,” Dewey noted, “may institute a more intimate association between human beings separated thousands of miles from each other than exists between dwellers under the same roof” (pp. 4-5). This principle of communication is quite significant to understanding postmodern constructs of community where time and place approach anywhere, anytime on the World Wide Web. Within this web ecosystem exist, of course, many thousands of social groups virtually side by side; yet Dewey’s basic premise holds. Those who communicate within these groups exhibit social identity. This awareness and behavior toward community goals through communication is a central feature of civic consciousness. Dewey’s pedagogic creed described one key element of this communication— education—as “the fundamental method of social progress and reform” (Dewey, 1897/1981, p. 443), which “proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race” (p. 452). This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his

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ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it in some particular direction (p. 443). The creed expressed Dewey’s philosophy of including social life and civic consciousness as natural dimensions of education for the whole person. Education is, in Dewey’s creed, a powerful democratizing and equalizing force. Dewey’s philosophical assertion that birth into the human race creates an inborn right to the funded capital of civilization echoes the Jungian view that people are connected across the human family tree through archetypal character traits, values, and other attributes. Dewey’s vision could only be realized in a great society based on principles great community enabled through education and freedom to amplify social connectedness. Education, Dewey asserted, takes place in schools that are “a form of community life” and function as a “process of living and not a preparation for a future” (Dewey, 1897/1981, p. 445). This process is present both inside the classroom and outside through the lived experiences in a complementary, recursive progression of academic and naturalistic development. Dewey’s integrated view of formal and informal learning, of more purposefully structured classroom learning and less structured learning in other social environments suggests that civic consciousness emerges from a great many origins as surely as a river derives its strengths from many sources at its countless points of origin hidden most often far from present view of observers standing on the banks far

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downstream. These observations about the mutually reinforcing effects of learning environments both inside and outside of classrooms may have been construed as aimed mainly at childhood learning, but Dewey’s foregoing notions of education as part of community life and living, not merely preparation to live, clearly indicate a life-long learning dimension in his philosophy of human development and, thus, the relevance of his observations to adult learners. Current theories of adult and lifelong learning (Knowles et al., 2005; Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007; Mezirow, 1991; Mezirow & Associates, 2000), and systems thinking (Bertalanffy, 1956; Senge, 2006; Skyttner, 2005) reinforce and expand on these ideas articulated early in Dewey’s career that learning is a continuous process of living in social ecosystems (Dewey, 1897/1981, p. 443). One current theorist, Patricia Cranton (2006), in writing about and extending Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformative learning, referred to Habermas’ (1984) conception of a systems world—a world of monetary, legal, educational, and other social systems, of psychological beliefs, and assumptions so taken for granted that they form our everyday “deeply imbedded habits of mind” (p. 31). Mezirow’s transformative learning is about discovering, challenging, and changing some habits of mind. Knowles et al. (2005) referred to Brookfield’s (1986) call for learners to “challenge their previously held values, beliefs, and behaviors,” and to be “confronted with ones that they may not want to consider” (p. 106) Knowles et al. observed with Brookfield that, “It is this dimension of increased insight through critical reflection on current assumptions and past beliefs that is sometimes ignored in treatments of adult learning” (p. 106). Never has Dewey’s call for the integration of formal and informal learning, of education as integral

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to community life, been more relevant in a world sundered in every region by conflicts fueled by intolerance found in unexamined habits of mind. Recent social research reemphasizes Dewey’s concerns from the past century, in suggesting that American culture has shifted away from collective identity toward individuality and weakening of social bonds (Bellah et al., 2008; Putnam, 2000; Putnam & Feldstein, 2003; Burd-Sharps, Lewis, & Martins, 2008). Putnam and Feldstein (2003) noted the following: Beginning . . . in the late 1960s, Americans in massive numbers began to join less, trust less, give less, vote less, and schmooze less. At first people hardly noticed what was happening, but over the last three decades involvement in civic associations, participation in public affairs, membership in churches and social clubs and unions, time spent with family friends and neighbors, philanthropic giving, even simple trust in other people. . . have all fallen by 25 to 50 percent. A variety of technological and economic and social changes—television, two-career families, urban sprawl, and so on—has rendered obsolete a good share of America’s stock of social capital. (p. 4) This weakening occurs in part as a result of growing individualism across the nation. Social bonds are weakened because, “Individualism alone does not allow persons to understand . . . their interdependence with others (Bellah et al. 2008, p. xv). This phenomenon is not new. Dewey (1954/1927) wrote in 1927, “Unless local community can be restored, the public cannot adequately resolve its most urgent problem: to find and identify itself” (p. 216). Dewey also emphasized the need for interpersonal engagement to maintain a healthy community:

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In its deepest and richest sense, a community must always maintain a matter of face- to-face intercourse. This is why the family and neighborhood, with all their deficiencies, have always been the chief agencies of nurture, the means by which dispositions are stably formed and ideas acquired which lay hold on the roots of character . . . . There is no limit to the liberal expansion and confirmation of limited personal intellectual endowment which may proceed from the flow of social intelligence when that circulates by word of mouth from one to another in the communications of that local community. (pp. 211, 219) Dewey’s flow of social intelligence has significance for civic consciousness, which might well be expressed as a form of social intelligence. If it is accepted that intelligence is good for individuals and nations, that intelligence is amplified through social interaction, and that civic mindedness is an intelligent form of social interaction, then it follows that civic mindedness is a high form of social good that should be encouraged. Effects of Military Experience A goal of military training and service is to create and strengthen social bonds in what amounts to a constructivist transformative learning experience. Cranton (2006), Mezirow (1991, 2000) and Knowles et al. (2005) address potentially relevant transformative and adult learning theory. Limited literature has been found directly addressing the research problem. A gap exists between the literature on transformative learning and the implications of transformative learning theory in military professional training and career development. Transformative learning can be initiated by a disorienting dilemma (Mezirow, 1991; Mezirow et al., 2000); but the transformation takes place only through reflection on the

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impact of solutions to that dilemma on personal beliefs, values, and behaviors. The person transformed may adopt a substantially new perspective on life purpose, meaning, and goals. Military training is deliberately transformative in its goal to strengthen within each new Service member a sense of corporate identity with associated values and behaviors required to accomplish military missions and duties. By adopting these values and applying them in the routines of military living, the new military personnel become able to cooperate as teams in often-stressful work environments. Some engage in acts of great sacrifice on behalf of others on their immediate teams, as well as to larger civic values such as duty, honor, country, family, freedom that they carry with them on military assignments. Certain experiences encountered during military life may in fact contain such ingredients of transformative learning as disorienting dilemmas and reflective assessments of beliefs, values, and attitudes. As a result, veterans of military service find themselves drawn throughout their lives to symbols or actual places of sacrifice, of life transformation, in the theaters of war that over time take on deeply significant overtones—war memorials, Veterans’ organizations, post-war Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and many other such places. It may be that such aspects of military life as intercultural experiences can create affective learning changes in ways similar to that gained through liberal arts education. Individuals who discover the often acute economic, health, quality-of-life, and freedom hardships experienced in less affluent societies of the world may indeed understand themselves and their nation differently— and perhaps feel more inclined to civic minded values and behaviors. This intercultural

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immersion has long been a mainstay of liberal education programs that encourage students to study abroad or give volunteer service. Statement of the Problem A review of literature revealed a) limited understanding of the effects of military service, except in those cases of severe injuries and extreme negative social behaviors that draw press attention, and b) a general lack of research-based understanding of the impact of military experience on the propensity for lifelong public service in local communities, government, and other venues. As a result of these knowledge gaps, there is a potential benefit for leaders of educational and public service programs in developing theoretical knowledge that can be applied in evaluating veterans’ actual and potential contributions to their communities. Also findings from this study have potential relevance for nonveteran communities where comparable life experiences may have similar effects on nonveterans’ civic values and attitudes. To develop useful theory, this study must evaluate the origins of civic consciousness among participants before and during military experience. A need exists to document lessons learned from veterans that can provide insights for educators, government and community planners, and social scientists working to strengthen civic values and participation in other segments of society. Also a need exists for insights for service providers delivering programs designed to meet veterans’ needs for wellness and lifelong human development.

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Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to explore the values and attitudes of present and former military personnel about voting, community service, supporting charitable causes, and other civic activities. The study applies a grounded theory methodology to explore with the veterans how they perceive that they have been changed by their overall military experience. Emphasis is on origins and development of civic values and behaviors that may be present. A desired outcome is development of a theoretical lense for use in evaluating and managing programs for delivery of veterans services and promotion of civic mindedness as a social good in society more generally. A strength of the U.S. All- Volunteer Force is that individualism and initiative are encouraged within a social framework of teamwork and cooperation—all attributes of democratic freedom and civic consciousness. Military service brings immersion in a corporate culture with rich traditions, values, and sense of community identity. This study develops lessons learned that may help promote positive social change by suggesting policies, strategies, learning programs, and further research for increasing civic consciousness in society generally. It may also provide a new theoretical lens for local, state, and federal program planners to apply in promoting civic values, volunteerism, and other forms of civic participation. Conceptual Framework for the Study This study is conceptually framed within the contexts of Mezirow's (1991; Mezirow et al., 2000) theory of transformative learning and Knowles et al.’s (2005) theory of adult learning, and related principles of social constructivism. These theories are not viewed as prescriptive or intended to constrain the findings that will emerge as the grounded theory data is developed and analyzed. Rather, they serve as assumptive referential baselines, or

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conceptual starting points, for interpreting the effects of military experience. The following discussion provides a brief explanation of the two key learning theories comprising the framework. Military life presents disorienting dilemmas that cause reassessment of lives, values, and priorities. Mezirow et al. (2000) defined transformative learning as a process of reassessing one’s basic assumptions or values about life. “It is,” he said, “most often explained as being triggered by a significant personal event, . . . a disorienting dilemma, an acute internal and personal crisis” (p. 298). The transformation process may be triggered by a sudden disorienting dilemma such as a major illness, getting married, having children, divorcing, or forced career changes. This reassessment takes place in a process of critical reflection and affective learning (p. 303) that leads to a change of perspective with consequent changes to life priorities and behaviors. Transformative learning theory focuses on "how we learn to negotiate and act on our own purposes, values, feelings, and meanings rather than those we have uncritically assimilated from others to gain greater control of our lives as socially responsible, clear- thinking decision makers" (Mezirow, 1991, p. 8). It is rooted in constructivist theory (Hatch, 2002) that argues learning is a process of envisioning or reconstructing, views about the nature of reality and knowledge (pp. 11–16). Clearly, any voyage of discovery requires a point embarkation and a broad map to guide the journey. The learning theories also serve as components of conceptual maps for situational analysis (Clark 2005) as discussed in chapter 3. In accordance with the principles of constructivism, new concepts and theory that may emerge—or that may be “constructed . . . out of stories that are told by research participants who are trying to

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explain and make sense out of their experiences and/or lives” (Corbin 2009, p. 39)—from this grounded theory study may then be included for comparison and contrast on a conceptual map for theory created during situational analysis. In this way, existing theory enters the dialogue with emergent concepts and theory constructed during analysis, but existent theory does not dominate. It remains to be seen how much the grounded theory produced in this study may reflect the principles of adult and transformative learning theory, or how much it may add further light to extant knowledge, or that it may diverge in some significant ways. The open-ended nature of grounded theory study suggest many possible outcomes which will become increasingly clear and focused as the theoretical codes begin to emerge from the data through the analysis approach described in chapter 3. The constructivist assumptions described in chapter 3 that guide concept development in the grounded theory methodology further reinforce this openness to discovery. The self-perceived realities of each participant will be juxtaposed through constant comparative analysis and theoretical coding with one another and the theories in the theoretical framework to produce a synthesis of ideas that may comprise new grounded theory. Taken together, the conceptual framework with its theories and the grounded theory approach enable a philosophical mindset to prevail throughout the study. Pojman (2006) describes this mindset as including attributes of “deep wonder about the universe” and human natures, origins, and directions therein (p. 9). This philosophical mindset, he said, includes doubting everything that is not supported by convincing evidence, loving the truth, dividing problems and theories into “the smallest essential components” for careful analysis (p. 9). A philosophical mindset also includes willingness to “revise, reject, and

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modify your beliefs and the degree with which you hold any belief. Acknowledge that you probably have many false beliefs and be grateful to those who correct you” (p. 9). Another suggestion is to “seek simplicity, . . . to prefer the simpler explanation to the more complex, all things being equal. The grounded theory methodology with its recursive analyses techniques and triangulation of findings, conclusions, and emergent theory with extant theory provides a conceptually as well as philosophically satisfying way conduct this study as a capstone step in earning a doctor of philosophy degree. Research Questions The central question is how are people changed by training and experience in the U.S. military with respect to civic values and behaviors both in and after military service. The principal phenomenon of interest to be explored is the effect of military training and experience on civic values and behaviors of people who have served in the U.S. military. More narrowly defined research questions designed to be used in exploring this phenomenon are: 1. What is the transformative learning effect of military training and experience? How does it work? 2. How do military training and experience impact perceptions of self? 3. How do military training and experience change values? 4. How do transformative learning, changing perceptions of self, and changing values affect civic values and behaviors? The answers to these questions will contribute to developing substantive theory, “a theoretical interpretation or explanation of a delimited problem in a particular area, such as family relationships, formal organization, or education” (Charmaz, 2006/2007, p. 188).

Full document contains 315 pages
Abstract: This study explores how U. S. military service changes veterans' civic values and behaviors. America faces a loss of civic consciousness, which may be defined as an individual sense of duty to society. Public participation has declined in civic activities ranging from voting to volunteering. A better understanding of veterans, who are approximately 7% of the general population, may provide insights to assist educators, government and community planners, and social scientists in strengthening civic values and participation in greater society. Service providers may apply insights from this study in programs designed to meet veterans' needs for wellness and lifelong human development. The study was conducted in the context of Mezirow's theory of transformative learning. The main research question addressed how U. S. military training and experience changed veterans' civic mindedness and related behaviors. The study used a qualitative grounded theory approach with 22 theoretically-sampled veterans. During in-depth interviews, they discussed how their military experiences affected their values and behaviors. Data was acquired and interpreted through repeated cycles of theoretical sampling, constant comparative analysis, and increasingly refined, integrated coding and memoing. The study presented a theory that serving in the U.S. All-Volunteer Force tends to develop and strengthen positive social values in veterans who experience challenging leadership, learning, and values-immersion experiences. Lessons developed in this study may help promote positive social change by suggesting policies, strategies, learning programs, and further research for increasing civic consciousness in society generally.