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A Study of Rural and Native-American Students’ Military Identities, Military Family History, and Reading and Writing Interests in a Military-friendly, Military-themed Composition Course

July, 2019
Article:

This article discusses a three-year case study conducted at a comprehensive research university and a regional university in Oklahoma. The study involves 74 service-members/veterans, 18 military spouses, and 95 nonveterans, with 21 of the nonveterans being the children of parents with military service. The study had two objectives, the first whether military service, affiliation or military family history was a driver in reading about military topics. Secondly whether a military formed/military theme focused class would appeal to a broad range of students. The study made a number of findings chief among those being that some form of military affiliation correlated with enjoyment or expression of potential enjoyment in reading about military topics.

 

Abstract

In this study, the authors addressed first-year-composition students in an economically depressed, rural area, with their state of residence having a high number, per capita, of service-members and veterans of recent wars. Additionally, some students identified as Native American. The study’s purpose was two-fold: first, more broadly, to investigate within this sociocultural dynamic to what extent students with a military identity, a recent military family history, and/or no military-related personal or family affiliation enjoyed reading about military topics and second, more narrowly, to explore whether the first author’s offering of a Composition II class, based upon an experimental course model formulated to be military-friendly and military-theme-focused, would promote a range of students’ interaction with the curricular design, including both service members/veterans and nonveterans. The article discusses a three-year case study conducted at a comprehensive research university and a regional university in Oklahoma and involves 74 service-members/veterans, 18 military spouses, and 95 nonveterans, with 21 of the nonveterans being the children of parents with military service. As instruments, the authors utilized surveys, interviews, and course papers. The study resulted in several findings. In the larger scope, at both universities, a majority of service-members/veterans reported having a personal and a family military history, and a majority of nonveterans reported having a family military history as factors correlating with their enjoyment or expressed potential enjoyment of reading about military topics. As a subgroup, most students enrolled in the military-friendly, Composition II class perceived that in doing so, they interacted with a cohesive, relevant curriculum as they read and sometimes wrote about military-oriented class materials, as well as the kinds of community service they intended to perform via their careers, with the idea of “serving” becoming a central topic. As additional curricular outcomes, the class’s framework aided service-members/veterans’ college shift, and many students valued opportunities to discuss identity-related issues regarding their personal and/or recent family military history. The study’s results have implications for teaching students, who are service-members/veterans, have a military-affiliated identity, and/or possess a recent military family history, within a military-friendly, first-year-writing classroom featuring military-themed readings. Furthermore, in addressing the call to identify and accommodate student groups and their academic needs specific to their demographic, this article has implications for instructing rural and Native American students of the geographical area.

Full Reference

Hembrough, T. and Dunn, K., 2019. A Study of Rural and Native-American Students’ Military Identities, Military Family History, and Reading and Writing Interests in a Military-friendly, Military-themed Composition Course . Journal of Veterans Studies, 4(2), pp.203–228. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.v4i2.112

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