School of Education
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)
Air National Guard, continuing education, experiential learning theory, Kolb’s Learning Cycle, professional military education, Air War College
Adult and Continuing Education
Thompson, Clayton Edward, "The Lived Professional Military Education Experience of Air National Guard Officers at Air University: A Hermeneutic Phenomenology Study" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4670.
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of Air National Guard officers attending professional military education at Air University. The theory guiding this research study is David Kolb’s experiential learning theory because of the emphasis placed on experiences, observations, and reflections during the education programs at Air University. The central research question was, what are the lived experiences of Air National Guard officers in the resident professional military education program at Air War College? This research study utilized a phenomenological approach as the research design and focused on Air National Guard officers attending a resident professional military education program at Air University. This study utilized semi-structured individual interviews, focus groups, and writing prompts to collect data. The analysis technique used for this research was a six-step thematic analysis process to uncover emergent themes from the interviews, focus groups, and writing prompts. The primary themes identified were: encouraged and dedicated reflection, learning through dialogue, a focus on highlighting diverse experiences, and applying learned concepts. In addition, this study identified that personal connections enhance the experience, Air War College is more than an education course, and the experience prepares senior military leaders for their next assignment. Future research should include a qualitative study focusing on professional military education programs and a quantitative study comparing and contrasting the resident programs with the correspondence programs.