School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Justin Necessary


military-affiliated students, overseas, foreign language learning, high mobility, self-determination




High mobility in students has been shown to have a negative effect on academic achievement. Military children relocate six to nine times before graduating high school, with at least one of these moves being overseas. This transcendental phenomenology described the lived experience of military-affiliated students who learned the language of their host culture while living overseas. The theory guiding this study was Ryan and Deci's self-determination theory. This study focused on the importance of self-determination for academic attainment, which is thought to be achieved through a feeling of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Through criterion sampling, 11 participants, ages18 to 23, who had taken the host nation language to fulfill their high school foreign language requirement while living overseas, were recruited. The study's setting was an Army base in Italy, where all participants attended high school. Data were collected online through one-on-one interviews, reflective essays, and a focus group discussion while simultaneously being analyzed using Epoche, phenomenological reduction, and imaginative variation. The themes identified were disappointment in self, support, home, goals, and outlook. The findings led to the conclusion that military-connected students do not acculturate much, if at all, during their stay in a foreign country due to being surrounded by military culture and thus do not easily acquire the host nation's language. Not meeting the participants' basic needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness could be a factor that contributes to this. Additional qualitative and quantitative research would be helpful to shed more light on this phenomenon.

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