Journal of Military Learning

Educating Soldiers in a Virtual Environment

Thomas E. Hennefer, PhD

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We live in a fast-paced world where technology changes the way we communicate daily, especially in military systems; the same can be said for distance education, where traditional education or “Sage on a Stage” has been replaced by learning management systems that allow students to interface with classmates and instructors on a global campus in a twenty-four-hour environment where the only limitation is effective and reliable internet access. As military personnel continue to expand their knowledge and complete their professional military education, the demands placed on individual soldiers will require a new set of skills, technology, and support from NCOs and officers. This article will explore the challenges, resources, and dedication it will take for both the Army and its personnel to assist soldiers in the completion of their formal education and make the opportunity of continued education a key component of advancement for both officers and enlisted personnel.


While teaching an online course on terrorism, I received an email from a student who was a marine scout-sniper in Afghanistan asking for an extension on a midterm writing assignment. In the email, the marine explained he was actively engaged with the enemy, and having to “shoot-n-scoot” was a bit challenging while trying to complete a major writing assignment on a laptop from the field.

While this is not a situation instructors usually deal with in a traditional brick-and-mortar university (the normal excuse is the same relative dying for the third time in one semester), it is the new reality active-duty military students face as they continue to pursue a military career and education. In addition, it is where we as instructors, educators, academics, officers, and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) will need to become more adaptable as a higher percentage of soldiers seek professional military education (PME) outside of the traditional classroom.

Having taught in excess of 150 graduate and undergraduate courses online for over a decade, I have observed many examples firsthand of students who have excelled in the virtual classroom and many other examples of those who have not. The biggest challenge has been how to educate the soldier who is not only operating in a virtual academic environment using one of many learning management software applications such as Blackboard, Canvas, or eCollege, but who is also posted on a forward operating base halfway around the world with limited (if any) internet access. The question most soldiers in this situation ask is, “How do I achieve my degree completion plan while performing my current operational duties?”

With any military education, the desire of the student for that education and his or her ability to manage personal time is essential for success. So is the support of the individual’s commander or NCO, regardless of the rank of the student or the academic courses and degree he or she is pursuing.

This article will explore lessons learned in delivering college and graduate courses to active-duty military students, the challenges they face, and the technology used to help them achieve their academic goals. It will also examine how an educational organization such as Army University can best serve those students (active duty or Army Reserve) and how the military can make the opportunity of continued education a key component of advancement for both officers and enlisted personnel.


Every year, thousands of students graduate from high school. Traditionally, the high school administrator conducting the graduation ceremony (obviously eager to please the audience) announces the percentage of graduates who will be attending college the next fall. However, what such officials usually do not discuss is the number of students from the class four years prior who failed to graduate from college with a degree. To do so would be depressing, considering how few students who leave the K-12 system actually complete a college program in the prescribed four- to five-year course of study. Notwithstanding, the challenges students—whether civilian or warrior—face in completing a course of study are the same and often overwhelming.

According to the Complete College America website, only 5 percent of those attending college complete their associate degree within two years and 19 percent of students complete their bachelor’s degree within four years.1 To put it another way, 95 percent do not complete their associate degree within two years while 81 percent do not complete their bachelor’s degree within four years. So, what happened?

For both nontraditional students and those returning to college after a prolonged absence, the psychological challenge of academics can be overwhelming, especially if they are the oldest students in the classroom or older than the PhD teaching the course. In my experience, the biggest need for overcoming the challenges such students face is the development of exceptional study habits, which includes learning personal habits of time management, research, writing, formatting, and the use of an appropriate style guide such as the Modern Language Association’s MLA Handbook or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Life is usually complex in any event, and for those in the military pursuing a college degree part-time, it is especially challenging when taking into consideration other time-consuming responsibilities associated with family, annual training, career, temporary duty, or extended and repetitive deployments. Even in the best of conditions, rare is the virtual student who breezes through a degree plan without distraction or complication.

Unlike civilian students, the challenge of being an active-duty soldier adds to the difficulty of university study since, unlike their civilian counterparts, soldiers lack the luxury of declining an invitation to deploy whereas a civilian has more freedom and discretion when it comes to lifestyle choices and participation in other activities that might distract from their academic time. This is best illustrated by the sign a colleague had on his home office door while completing his dissertation that read, “Unless you, the house or your brother are literally on fire, don’t knock on this door.

One of the additional tests facing the military student is an absence of academics or classmates with a shared military experience. This is apparent in the percentage of Americans who currently serve in an active or reserve status compared to the rest of the American population; those who are personally prepared to respond “the moment the war tocsin sounds.”2

Academic Preparation

There is a Portuguese proverb that says the person who is well prepared has already won half of the battle, and the same is true for the soldier whose hard training makes for easier fighting. However, one reason that students (civilian or military) struggle, especially in their first few courses, is their lack of personal preparation. As anyone who has observed the first hours of Ranger School or the induction process at any Marine Corps recruiting depot can attest, preparation before the need arises is the best course to victory before the battle is fought.

Besides time management and personal dedication to the objective of receiving an academic degree, each warrior-student needs the basic skills and equipment necessary to engage in the academic process. Without them, he or she will struggle and fail to achieve his or her academic objectives. So what are these basic skills and tools required to win in the academic environment?

Financial Support

If a soldier is constantly trying to balance the financial demands of an educational institution against the needs of his or her family, one priority will always lose to the other. And while the military offers excellent educational compensation, some students might be unaware of the process for gaining financial support, the benefits they have earned, or how to access those benefits. This is where mentoring by the chain of command can help guide the prospective student through the maze of paperwork and confusing terminology. Once the financial obligations of tuition, books, transcripts, and technology have been addressed, the student is more likely to focus on his or her course syllabus and not on where the next car payment is coming from.

Academic Maturity

In any academic work, the level of rigor is often equal to the caliber of the major area of study or the quality of the institution where the student is enrolled; the harder the course, the higher the standards, the fewer the number of graduates. Consequently, for a student to be successful academically, each must prepare him or herself emotionally, physically, and mentally for the same academic rigor as those enrolled in any of the Army’s more challenging schools. For example, as former Ranger School instructor John Spencer stated, “For any soldier preparing for Ranger School: Expect to be tested, physically and mentally. Expect it to hurt. Expect to be hungry, and cold, and tired.”3

While the difference between the classroom and an operational area is obvious, what many warrior-students fail to realize when they enroll in a class or course of study is that a virtual classroom can be, and often is, more challenging than anticipated since, unlike the physical classroom, there is no roll call to see who is in attendance and who is not, no one demanding the student turn on the computer and engage in the weekly discussion, submit an assignment, or take a quiz. Self-discipline is a must; it is all up to them. As a colleague is fond of saying, “The hardest part of a workout at the gym is just getting out of the house.”

Since the online student is often “flying solo,” the desire for successful completion of the academic degree in many cases has to be at the price of an almost fanatical dedication to that mission, since the student will be required to commit most of his or her personal off-duty time to reading, researching, and writing. Additionally, though a majority of the research information needed can and often is accessible online, there is still the basic need to visit a library, submerge oneself in the “stacks,” and develop a relationship with a professional librarian whose insight and access to undiscovered nuggets of knowledge can be priceless.

The common misconception with online versus virtual classrooms is that the latter is easier and less academically rigorous. Nothing could be further from the truth. What students often fail to understand is that the only difference (usually) between a physical and a virtual class is convenience. So, for virtual students to excel in reaching their academic goal of graduation, they will need well-defined and well-developed sets of individual study skills and the mental toughness to weather the academic storm in their free time while finding a balance among career, family, and academic studies.

Student Competency

Often, a student takes a course only to discover that the skills he or she acquired months, years, or even a decade or more previously have atrophied; moreover, those academic skills he or she learned in K-12 may have become somewhat obsolete and not enough to keep pace with the class materials and study requirements. Another issue is that students might mistakenly project their future academic success based on past academic experience, believing that being a former “A” student means they will continue to perform at that level. As an example, a daughter of one of my colleagues was valedictorian of her high school graduating class. She had very high ACT and SAT scores, and eventually was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). However, to her and her parent’s dismay, she discovered that in comparison to her classmates at MIT, she was an average student; in that academic environment, her contemporaries functioned at the same high academic level she did, which was reflected in a grading curve in which she was not always an “A” student.

This illustrates that while a student may come to university study with strong study skills and a sense of inevitable entitlement to success, the environment he or she functions in (not to mention distractions) and the pace of instruction may add to an already frustrating academic journey toward graduation due to his or her academic standing being lower than expected.

Remedial Education Prerequisites

One area that negatively impacts student success is the need for remedial education courses, usually identified as a requirement after testing by a university testing center. Remedial requirements to demonstrate basic connotative reading, writing, and mathematical skills are often dismissed as unnecessary by far too many for-profit universities. Such courses are perceived as needlessly delaying students’ participation in regular academic work, which also impacts the ability of the university and students to receive financial aid. Some universities even go so far as to rename remedial courses so the students’ self-image or ego is not damaged by having to participate in what could be perceived as lower-level courses. Notwithstanding, forgoing recommended remedial courses could leave a student unable to perform or complete complex college-level assignments, often resulting in that student either failing or having to repeat the course, or dropping out of academics completely.

For a returning student to be successful, he or she must have the skills and abilities to comprehend and complete coursework assignments; hence, the need to prequalify students before taking mainstream courses is paramount to them staying the course until graduation. As indicated in the paper “Does Literacy Skill Level Predict Performance in Community College Courses: A Replication and Extension,” previous research has found a positive relationship between students who completed a sequence of developmental reading and writing courses and success in a reading-intensive college-level course.4 Thus, universities would perform a great service if a majority of returning students were required to complete a system of preacceptance evaluation prior to the start of any academic term. Some students might even be able to “test out” of a class by demonstrating mastery of the course information and concepts before taking a course.

As a further example, a professor told me about a student who took a midterm exam for a Managerial Economics 101 class. Although the student arrived early and was the last to leave, the only mark the professor found on the student’s paper after the test was the student’s name. Further investigation by the professor revealed the student read at the eighth grade level, but since the school had an “open door” policy, the student was allowed to matriculate into the student body. The professor suggested that the student take a remedial reading and math class in an effort to give the student a fighting chance for success in the course, but the professor was told that the college did not believe in remedial classes since it would be detrimental to the student’s self-confidence and give the perception that the student was less than academically prepared for college-level work. Predictably, the student failed to complete the course.

Currently, the national six-year completion rate for undergraduates on average stands at 39 percent. Part of the reason is that community colleges, with their commitment to open access, admit millions of students each year who are unprepared for college-level work, even though attendees have received a high-school diploma.5 What this example represents is not the inability of the student to eventually do college-level work but rather serves as an instance of ineffectiveness of the local K-12 system to educate and prepare students to be successful in their academic journey. Had the student in question been able to successfully complete remedial courses, the chances of his or her academic progress would have been greatly enhanced.

Adult Learning

While all soldiers are considered adults, not all soldiers are adult learners. An adult learner is generally considered a student aged twenty-five or older.6 Adult learners often have higher expectations of the material being presented, the credentials of the instructors, and how the information being presented relates to the students’ goals and career plans. As indicated by the pedagogical theory of Malcolm Knowles,

  1. adults need to know why they need to learn something,
  2. adult learners need to be self-directed,
  3. adults draw heavily upon previous experience when learning,
  4. adults are ready to learn in order to cope with real-life situations,
  5. adult learning is task-centered or problem-centered in order to deal with life situations, and
  6. adults are motivated to learn.7

Not everyone learns in the same manner, and motivating students to learn—even Army students—can be problematic based upon the individualistic nature of learning. While the concept of self-directed learning may imply that adults require little, if any, direction and guidance from a teacher, the reality is much different. Because adults have different levels of maturity and self-direction, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to their education.8

Some people are natural promoters. They are born with the instinct to self-promote. However, many other Army students who sincerely want to finish a degree program are often caught among the responsibilities of service, home, family, and finances, and often unknowingly, succumb to the symptom known as “call reluctance.” For many of the most loyal, motivated, and deserving personnel, self-promotion is emotionally difficult. As a result, they are rendered invisible by a spirit-crushing condition called the fear of self-promotion.9

In generic sales terms, call reluctance is the psychological incapability of a salesperson to make a sales call or approach a customer for fear of being rejected. Paradoxically, if a sales call or customer approach is not implemented, then the salesperson cannot be rejected but fails in his or her goal of making a successful sale.

For soldiers, the same paradox is true. If PME completion is required for promotion, then the soldier needs to be successful at completing PME. But, if the soldier lacks the confidence to take the PME classes, or fears public speaking or test taking, then he or she might avoid taking the required courses, will not graduate, and will not be promoted. Some students are terrified of public speaking so they avoid it at all costs. Others are terrified of written exams, so they avoid classes where those types of evaluations are more usually encountered. While these phobias may seem unrealistic or counterproductive, they are as real as any other phobia such as the fear of heights, water, spiders, etc.

An effective way to increase warrior-student success in overcoming such phobias is making the academic process more personalized and interactive—that is, making the warrior-student an active participant in the courses he or she takes, the environment in which those courses are taken, and the preparation he or she makes before the academic journey begins. One way to facilitate this is to have a formally written and clearly defined degree plan listing all the courses required to graduate, the sequence in which the courses should be taken, and the time it takes to complete the degree plan and graduate. Without a specific and well-defined degree plan, there is the temptation to treat academics as an intellectual buffet where students take courses that appear interesting but are not applicable to the listed graduation requirements, and where a student ends up with credits that are not applicable to any defined major. The degree plan approach allows the student to visually measure his or her progress, see what courses are available the next semester or quarter, and importantly, how close he or she is to graduation.

Adults also have the need to independently organize their learning around their life experiences and problems.10 As self-directed learners, adults desire some level of autonomy over their learning experience as well as shared ownership of the outcomes.11 Learner control, including control over topics, sequencing, pacing, and access to supporting resources has been shown to be a major factor affecting student motivation.12 Learner control over the acquisition of knowledge as well as the process for acquiring it is an important aspect of self-directed learning and is strongly tied to motivation.13 Thus, adults desire some level of control over their access to learning resources, the learning process, the learning objectives, and the process for evaluating whether the objectives have been met.14

Self-Regulated Learning

One of the most important issues concerning warrior-students is that adult learners need to be self-directed, since without self-direction (also known as self-regulated learning), the student will find other (usually more pleasurable) activities to take up the time dedicated to academics.

While some students require absolute silence when applying their study habits and skills to specific courses, others can work in a room filled with people and still focus on the coursework; there is no single right approach. It all comes down to what works for that specific student, and what works for one student may not be effective for another.

At the end of the day, the driving forces have to be self-determination and dedication by the student toward academic achievement. Without it, the student will find it impossible to complete all academic coursework, especially if he or she is doing it for someone other than himself or herself such as a parent, spouse, commanding officer, or NCO. Edward Deci and Richard Ryan stated that students who comply with the teacher’s demands because they want to obtain a certificate are not intrinsically motivated.15 They might easily disengage from the task or activity when obstacles and distracters interrupt their actions.

Choosing the Right Institution

Few issues in academics are more important than the choice of the right academic institution or major area of academic concentration for a student. Unfortunately, this is a topic seldom discussed since the trend in academics is still the “one size-fits-all” opinion.

Higher education institutions are very diverse. There are over 4,600 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in America. About one-third are public and two-thirds are private. About two-thirds are four-year institutions and about one-third (less than 1,600) are two-year institutions, including community colleges and technical and vocational schools. Most two-year institutions (57 percent) are public, and by far, most four-year institutions (77 percent) are private. Among private institutions, a slight majority (54 percent) is nonprofit; the rest are for profit. Over the past two decades, the number of for-profit higher education institutions has more than quadrupled, from 345 in 1994 to 1,424 in 2014.16

When choosing the right school, military students are faced with different criteria than those found in the civilian world. Civilians are rarely deployed for extended periods of time to locations where Internet access is at best problematic. That said, those in the military have to take into consideration issues such as repeat deployments; access to technology; sympathetic institutions and professors; conversion of PME courses from military to civilian credit hours; and the credentials, accreditation, and reputation of the degree-granting institution.

Accreditation is an essential system for validating that professional and educational programs of higher-level educational institutions actually have the acceptable standards and levels of performance, integrity, and quality that entitle them to the confidence of the educational community and the public. The loss of accreditation is tantamount to a death sentence. Without it, colleges and universities are ineligible to receive federal aid, a major source of financial support, without which they are unable to operate. According to the federal government’s new College Scorecard, “It is one thing to graduate from Harvard with $30,000 of debt, and quite another to graduate from the University of Phoenix with $30,000 of debt.”17

This researcher has taught in the physical and virtual environments at graduate and undergraduate levels in for-profit and nonprofit schools for ten-plus years using a wide range of learning management software to teach over three thousand students: civilian and military, domestic and deployed. In my experience, the following criteria seem to work best for students and faculty.

First, an academic institution needs to have a physical campus; not a rented space in a strip mall or office building. This is important because at some point, a student or family will attend graduation, and the institution needs a place other than the local Holiday Inn to hold graduation proceedings. A physical campus presents palpable evidence indicative of a certain level of commitment, permanence, and legacy. Also, faculty need a place to meet and advise students, conduct research, or hold faculty governance and committee meetings other than by email, Skype, FaceTime, or GoToMeeting. A physical campus offers both faculty and undergraduate students a place to conduct research, obtain grants, and add to the body of knowledge.

Second, full-time and tenure-tracked faculty need to outnumber adjunct faculty. Three quarters of nontenure-tracked faculty in the United States are part-timers. In 1969, 22 percent of the academic jobs were for adjuncts. Part-time teaching staffs are allocated the introductory, demanding classes like first-year student composition. There is almost no time to apply for permanent jobs and to write scholarly pieces.18 Adjuncts teach from contract to contract every six to eighteen weeks with no certainty of another contract. They receive no health care, retirement, research funding, dedicated office or desk space, or access to many department resources. They rarely sit on committees and are often passed over for leadership or full-time positions when those become available. Adjuncts also are underpaid compared to full-time or tenured faculty (often 75 percent less), even though they have the same, if not better, academic record on publishing in peer-reviewed journals, postdoctoral employment, and the coveted but hard-to-complete PhD.

The notion that adjunct faculty choose part-time teaching to earn extra money, give back to the community, or are retirees is not a reality.19 The majority (70 percent) of faculty positions today are both part-time and off-the-tenure track. While they are difficult to pin down exactly, median wages for adjuncts in the United States in 2013 are estimated at about $2,700 per class, with annual salaries amounting to roughly $20,000–$25,000. In parallel, colleges and universities in the United States have been abandoning their long-term faculty commitments. Over the last forty years, the share of the academic labor force holding full-time positions with tenure has declined 26 percent, and there has been a 50 percent decrease in the share of those holding full-time positions on the tenure track.20 Conversely, full-time faculty members presumably have stability, health benefits, and resources. As full-time faculty members do not scramble between multiple job responsibilities, they have time to connect with students through advising, student activities, and tutoring.21

Student development research confirms that students’ connection to the institution increases student retention.22 Specifically, it notes that faculty involvement remains a compelling element for student engagement and connecting students to the subject matter. Yet this engagement cannot occur if the faculty member is running to a second teaching assignment across town. Therefore, in the post-recession environment with a federal mandate to offer more post-secondary education, administrators are left considering both the cost and the quality of education.23 Institutions need to support and encourage independent research, grants, fellowships, and world-class research libraries. The hallmark of any great university is a distinguished faculty reputation for research in all aspects and departments supported by access to a superior physical and virtual research library; anything less and it is just another trade school.

Universities are critical venues for research and development in all disciplines. An important element in the research process is the accessibility of information resources and services provided by libraries. Postgraduate students are key producers of research in universities, and an important element in their research process is access to information.24 At research universities in the United States, it is a given that faculty must publish to earn tenure and promotion. The lack of a substantial publication record means that earn­ing tenure may be in jeopardy. Of course, many academics publish for other reasons, including personal motivations to communicate the fruits of their work to as wide an audience as possible.25

Leadership Support and Mentoring

When someone walks across the stage to receive an academic diploma, be it for a bachelor’s, a master’s, or a doctorate degree, he or she realizes that without support, the journey would have been much longer and potentially impossible. Considering the unique challenges faced by military students, mentoring by NCOs and officers to get such support is essential, especially in an era of increased operational activity.

Since the Persian Gulf War of 1990–1991, the operational tempo for soldiers has steadily increased, whereas the numbers of soldiers available to fulfill these missions has decreased.26 As a result, soldiers and their families are experiencing increased levels of stress that continue to manifest in ways that can often be destructive for the soldiers, their families, and the Army community.27

As anyone can attest who has attended the Army’s Command and General Staff College, the War College, or the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, PME courses are rigorous and stressful. The same can be said for the situation of a soldier assigned to a forward operating base in Afghanistan or Iraq who must contend with spotty internet access and demanding academic courses while performing combat operations and coping with family separation.

Additionally, while military students seek academic degrees essential for career advancement, they must also consider attendance at requisite PME courses throughout their careers. PME leader development is vital to organizations working within multifaceted environments. Complicated, uncertain, and increasingly dynamic situations require highly trained, skilled, and experienced leaders. Leaders must think, exercise judgment, and make decisions to be successful.28

With all these challenges, mentoring is essential to help warrior-students succeed in attaining their academic and PME goals. Mentoring is a developmental relationship in which a more experienced person serves as a guide, role model, teacher, and sponsor for a less experienced person—usually in the same organization. A mentor typically becomes invested in the career progression and development of the protégé or mentee and often provides such essential functions as counseling, challenging, and supporting.29


One of the biggest challenges of the future operational environment will be soldiers with cell phones who can (while on patrol) call anyone on the planet; their parents, their spouses, or even their buddies at home. We already have that technical ability, and the warrior who is also a parent now may likely be able to Skype or FaceTime with his or her children regardless of where the soldier is deployed and speak to them in real time. This is far different from having to scribble a quick note on a C-ration box as was done just a generation ago, sent by mail from a jungle halfway around the world.

Advances in computers and communication now provide us with the ability, opportunity, and challenges of educating our warrior-students in a virtual environment; how we meet this new educational paradigm will determine the military’s ability to retain and recruit new, smarter, and more adaptable personnel. Such recruits will expect that the technology, access, and opportunities related to educational advancement they left behind in civilian life will be available in the military, not represent a giant leap backward.

This article is dedicated to 2nd Lt. Rachel Hennefer-Seegmiller, U.S. Army, and Senior Airman Kristopher Hennefer, U.S. Air Force.


  1. “The College Completion Crisis,” Complete College America, accessed 16 July 2018,
  2. Douglas MacArthur, “Duty, Honor, Country” (Thayer Award Speech, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, 12 May 1962), American Rhetoric, accessed 16 July 2018,
  3. John Spencer, “Ranger School Is Not a Leadership School,” Modern War Institute at West Point, 6 December 2016, accessed 16 July 2018,
  4. Nancy J. Allen, Kimberly A. DeLauro, and Julia K. Perry, “Does Literacy Skill Level Predict Performance in Community College Courses: A Replication and Extension,” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 41 (2017): 203–16.
  5. Timothy Pratt, “The Open Access Dilemma: How Can Community Colleges Better Serve Underprepared Students?,” Education Next, Fall 2017, accessed 16 July 2018,
  6. Malcolm S. Knowles, Elwood F. Holton, and Richard A. Swanson, The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2011), 65–67.
  7. Knowles, Holton, and Swanson, 67.
  8. George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson, The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales (Dallas: Behavioral Sciences Research Press, 2008), 66.
  9. Dudley and Goodson.
  10. Irmgard Demirol et al., Innovative Ways for Motivating Adults for Learning (Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Create-Motivate-Learn Partnership, 2011).
  11. Ruth Clark and Richard E. Mayer, E-learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning, 1st ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003).
  12. Monique Boekaerts and Eduardo Cascallar, “How Far Have We Moved Toward the Integration of Theory and Practice in Self-Regulation?,” Educational Psychological Review 18, no. 3 (September 2006): 200–8.
  13. David Pierson, “Reengineering Army Education for Adult Learners,” Journal of Military Learning 1, no. 1 (October 2017), accessed 16 July 2018,
  14. Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan, “An Overview of Self-Determination Theory: An Organismic-Dialectical Perspective,” in Handbook of Self-Determination Research, ed. Deci and Ryan (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester, 2002), 3–34.
  15. “Snapshot Report: Adult Learners,” National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Spring 2012, 1, accessed 11 September 2017, Adult_Learners.pdf.
  16. Compare “College Scorecard: Harvard University,” U.S. Department of Education website, accessed 16 July 2018,, with “College Scorecard: University of Phoenix,” U.S. Department of Education website, accessed 16 July 2018,
  17. Goodwin Liu, “Three Challenges for American Higher Education,” UC Irvine Law Review 7, no. 1 (2017): 10, accessed 2 August 2018.
  18. Mary Grabar, “Adjunct Professors’ Rodney Dangerfield Problem,” The Federalist, 27 May 2015, accessed 16 July 2018,
  19. Amanda L. Bakley and Lyn A. Brodersen, “Waiting to Become: Adjunct Faculty Experiences at Multi-Campus Community Colleges,” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 42, no. 2 (2018): 129–45.
  20. Sasha Breger Bush, Lucy Ware McGuffey, and Tony Robinson, “Neoliberalism in the Academy: Dispatch from a Public University in Colorado,” World Social and Economic Review of Contemporary Policy Issues 8 (April 2017): 18–31.
  21. Leah Hollis, “The Significance of Declining Full-Time Faculty Status for Community College Student Retention and Graduation: A Correlational Study with a Keynesian Perspective,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 5, no. 3 (2015): 1–7.
  22. Alexander W. Astin, “Student Involvement: A Developmental Theory for Higher Education,” Journal of College Student Development 40, no. 5 (September/October 1999): 518–29.
  23. Vincent Tinto, “Stages of Student Departure: Reflections on the Longitudinal Character of Student Leaving,” The Journal of Higher Education 59, no. 4 (July-August 1988): 438–55.
  24. Aamir Rasul and Diljit Singh, “The Role of Academic Libraries in Facilitating Postgraduate Students’ Research,” Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science 15, no. 3 (January 2011): 75–84.
  25. John M. Budd, “Faculty Publications and Citations: A Longitudinal Examination,” College & Research Libraries 78, no. 1 (2017): 80–89.
  26. Richard T. Keller et al., “Soldier Peer Mentoring Care and Support: Bringing Psychological Awareness to the Front,” Military Medicine 170, no. 5 (2005): 355–61.
  27. Keller et al., “Soldier Peer Mentoring Care and Support.”
  28. Evelyn Hollis, “Flexible, Adaptive, and Agile Leaders: A Qualitative Case Study of Experiences in Leading and Development” (PhD diss., University of Phoenix, 2017).
  29. W. Brad Johnson and Gene R. Andersen, “Formal Mentoring in the U.S. Military: Research Evidence, Lingering Questions, and Recommendations,” Naval War College Review 63, no. 2 (2010): 113–26.


Thomas E. Hennefer, PhD, is a writer, educator, and researcher on military issues including insurgent operations and domestic terrorism. He holds a BA in management and human relations, an MBA in statistical process control, and a PhD in organizational management with a second doctorate in leadership. He served as a contractor at the Joint Reserve Intelligence Center Army Intelligence, Training and Doctrine Command G-2, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with the Human Terrain System. His publications include a PhD dissertation titled “Professional Military Corporations as Force Multipliers,” a paper presented at a 2005 Combat Studies Institute conference titled “The Use of Private Military Corporations to Supplement Traditional American Ground Forces,” and a book titled The Best Kind of War: How Military Corporations Are Changing the Modern Battlefield. He was also a contributor to CTS1: The Counterterrorism, WMD & Hybrid Threat SMARTbook.

October 2018