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RESEARCH BRIEFS

Benbow, R. J. (September, 2020). Student military service member and veteran university transitions: The cultural importance of camaraderie and social support [Research Brief]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Summary: With the establishment of wide-ranging post-9/11 state and federal higher education tuition and living benefits, military service member and veteran enrollment in American colleges and universities has increased exponentially over the last decade. Research examining the difficult transition these students make as they move from the military to the university typically does not position these institutions as separate cultural spheres, however, limiting the helpfulness of findings for college educators and others looking to better support these students. Using freelisting interview methods (n=54), this qualitative study explores cultural differences between the military and university and how student military service members and veterans believe these differences influence their transitions into college. Results show that students perceive an absence of camaraderie in university life in particular, and that the missing family atmosphere, trust, and deeper relationships of their military experience are an important influence on their university experience. Findings point to the importance of social support networks and community-building efforts to mitigate these students’ challenges as they move into university.

Benbow, R. J. & Lee, Y. G. (October, 2020). Campus belonging among student military service members and veterans in STEMM majors: A social network and social capital study [Research Brief]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Summary: Analysts contend that the U.S. science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) workforce suffers from a training and diversity shortage. While recent university reforms have aimed to improve STEMM undergraduate persistence in response, little research has studied retention among student military service members and veterans (SSM/Vs), a group of students with the potential to broaden and strengthen the scientific workforce. With research indicating SSM/V academic experiences improve with strong social support, this study explores links between social support networks for SSM/V in STEMM and feelings of campus belonging that are important to college success. Findings from SSM/V surveys (n=333) indicate that larger support networks that include students and university educators positively associate with a sense of campus belonging. At the same time, SSM/V interviewees (n=54) describe how feelings of belonging often come through student friendships, faculty care, and campus veteran support. Results reconfirm the importance of social support among SSM/Vs and suggest that university service providers looking to support these students should actively and purposefully encourage social ties with fellow students, staff, and faculty members.

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (August, 2021). Describing social support networks among student military service members and veterans in STEM majors [Research Brief]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Summary: Equitable workforce development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is increasingly important to national economic prosperity, health, and security. In recent years, student military service members and veterans (SSM/Vs)—a diverse undergraduate population with the technical training and capability to excel in STEM fields—have been one of the fastest-growing groups of nontraditional students in American higher education. Considering the importance of social support networks for STEM majors and SSM/Vs, as demonstrated in past studies, as well as the lack of fundamental research focused on SSM/Vs in STEM, this mixed-method study explores the characteristics and value of social support networks among SSM/Vs in university STEM majors using survey (n=257) and interview (n=44) data. Results show strong SSM/V ties to family and friends, military-affiliated contacts, and significant others, as well as racially homogenous networks. SSM/Vs also describe the importance of bridging perspectives and role-based support that helps them access informational, task-oriented, and affective resources.

DATA REPORTS

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (February, 2021). Student military service members and veterans in five Wisconsin universities: Phase one research findings from the Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study [Data Report]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Summary: This report contains findings from a research study focused on undergraduate student military service members and veterans (SSM/Vs) at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UW–Green Bay), UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Stout. This study focused on two objectives: (1) Better understanding SSM/V social support networks—or relationships that provide assistance, advice, and camaraderie shown to help students succeed—and how these networks influence SSM/Vs moving through college into careers, as well as (2) providing data-supported insights for student service professionals and other stakeholders that can help improve SSM/V academic and workforce outcomes. During Phase One of this study, reported here, SSM/V online surveys (n=623) and interviews (n=54) were administered in the spring of 2020. Findings in the report are centered on SSM/V demographics; high school, military, and university experiences among current STEM majors; career plans; life during COVID-19; and social support networks.

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (January, 2021). University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student military service members and veterans: Phase one research findings from the Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study [Data Report]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (January, 2021). University of Wisconsin-Madison student military service members and veterans: Phase one research findings from the Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study [Data Report]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (January, 2021). University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student military service members and veterans: Phase one research findings from the Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study [Data Report]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Benbow, R. J. & Xie, X. (January, 2021). University of Wisconsin-Stout student military service members and veterans: Phase one research findings from the Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study [Data Report]. The Veteran Education to Workforce Affinity and Success Study (VETWAYS): University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Summary: These institution-specific data reports contain findings from four of the universities involved in this research study, including UW–Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Stout. Findings in the reports are centered on SSM/V demographics; high school, military, and university experiences among current STEM majors; career plans; life during COVID-19; and social support networks, and compare each university’s findings to findings from the other universities in the study. 

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