Davis, C. (2020). A Phenomenological Case Study of Faculty and Staff Experiences in Green Zone Training to Support Student Veteran Transition into Higher Education. Unc Charlotte Electronic Theses And Dissertations.
The enactment of the federal G.I. Bill in 1944 and subsequent amendments over the past 76 years have provided greater access to higher education for veteran service members (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, 1944; Steele et al., 2018; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2018a). Military-affiliated students represent the largest number of non-traditional learners entering higher education (Osborne, 2014; U.S. Department of Education, 2016; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2013; VA Campus Toolkit, 2019) with continued growth estimated in future years (VA Campus Toolkit, 2019). This current and anticipated influx of student veterans necessitates post-secondary institutions to prepare for the unique strengths, challenges, and stressors presented by student veterans in their transition from the military to college.This phenomenological case study explored the experiences of 12 faculty and staff members in a campus-based Green Zone professional development training program intended to support the transition of student veterans into higher education. Empirical research focused on faculty and staff experiences in Green Zone training is nonexistent. Aiming to fill a void in scholarly knowledge, this study investigated how faculty and staff experienced the phenomenon of Green Zone training. The exploration was guided by four research questions: 1) What are the initial motivations of participants to engage in Green Zone training?; 2) How do faculty and staff characterize their overall experiences in the Green Zone training program?; 3) What kind of perspective changes did participants experience during the training?; and 4) What are the post-training outcomes of participants’ attendance in Green Zone training? An iterative cycle of inductive analysis yielded 12 major themes and 31 subthemes from participant narratives that were triangulated by additional contextual data. Due to the interpretive nature of the study, no single theoretical framework guided the research. Instead, highlighted thematic findings were situated against theories of organizational culture and transformative learning to provide robust context to the experiences of faculty and staff in Green Zone training. Additional scholarly literature added insight to discussion of research discoveries. Findings of the study showed that organizational culture was a contributory element in participants’ overall experience in the Green Zone program, while engagement in learning that exposed them to real-life experiences of a veteran served as a pivotal point of new understanding and connection to the material. An unexpected discovery of the research was the cognitive tension that participants experienced in navigating competing ideological forces to redefine the concept of a supportive campus community for all students. Implications of this study inform application of professional development practices for higher education leaders and training practitioners in support of student veterans and other invisible and marginalized student populations.