Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies

Committee Director

Philip A. Reed

Committee Member

Petros Katsioloudis

Committee Member

Ginger S. Watson


The purpose of this study was to investigate what motivated and enabled military service members to earn a post-secondary degree. This problem was investigated to better inform institutions of higher education regarding how to recruit and retain military-affiliated members and how to provide career-enhancing information to service members at institutions of higher education.

Education for military service members was a process that facilitated the growth, learning, and maturity of individuals in an effort to achieve their goals while simultaneously achieving the collective goals of the organization. This study sought to identify the enabling and motivating factors that empowered service members to surpass the obstacles that impeded their processes in obtaining degrees from institutions of higher education. Motivating factors pertained to those enhancements and experiences that supported service members’ awareness, knowledge, continuous improvement, and perseverance in a consolidated effort to promote educational success and well-being (Preston & Claypool, 2013). Enablers were identified as the attitudes, behaviors, and factors that provide the opportunities for service members to become associated with the academic environment and to advance intellectually from the instruction (DiPerna, 2004).

The study utilized an electronic survey that included closed-form Likert-type items with a 5-item response scale, open-form questions, and demographic questions to obtain data on motivational and enabling factors that pertained to service members seeking post-secondary degrees. The survey was electronically distributed to 781 service members; 141 (18%) service members responded to the survey of which, 114 were eligible to provide input. The researcher used Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), Version 24, to conduct analysis. Descriptive data was obtained from SPSS and a multiple regression analysis method was used to compare the 10 independent service member motivating variables and the eight independent service member enabling variables.

A regression model assisted in predicting significance for motivation. The results indicated that “Assist me in achieving personal growth” was a significant motivator for service members earning a post-secondary degree. A regression model was not significant in predicting enablers. There were no significant enablers for service members earning a post-secondary degree. The researcher however, indicated that descriptive statistics and literature supported at least two of the enablers being significant for service members earning a post-secondary degree.

Findings from this study would serve as crucial information for service members seeking to earn post-secondary degrees; institutions of higher education can use the information to assist in recruiting and retaining degree seeking service members. Administrators, faculty, and staff personnel in the higher education profession may, also, refer to this study as well as military leaders that provide counsel to subordinate service members.


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