School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Jeff Savage

Primary Subject Area

Education, General


Qualitative, Phenomenology, Hermeneutic, Motivation, Intrinsic, Extrinsic




The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the motivation of attending college through the experiences of active-duty Navy service members stationed at Naval Air Station East (NAS East). Specifically, the study sought to better understand how intrinsic and extrinsic motivators impact the behavior or actions that compel that small percentage of Navy service members to pursue a college education while balancing their military service requirements. With self-determination theory as the theoretical framework, the central research question asked, “What are the determining motivators that influence United States Navy service members to attend college while on active duty?” Data collection involved purposeful sampling from active-duty participants stationed at Naval Air Station East. The research employed three data collection methods: audio-recorded personal interviews, focus groups, and participants’ written journals. Moustakas’ phenomenological methodology guided the data analysis while In Vivo Coding and Descriptive coding styles identified the thematic elements of the study. The research revealed that participants possessed a blend of extrinsic regulators stemming from external influences such as environmental factors and inspirational support. The participants also embraced intrinsic regulators of motivation deriving from internal passions such as faith and a drive to achieve satisfaction in their personal career growth.

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