ACA Blog

Grace De Angelou
Aug 22, 2011

Military Servicemember Higher Education Enrollment Instructional Plan: Misconceptions, Discovery Learning, Problem Solvi ...

Overcoming barriers to continuing education for soldiers begins with finding a school which is truly military-friendly. This is one aspect military service students may overlook when enrolling in higher education programs offered by universities, colleges, or technical schools. There is much caution to base this on due to the fact some schools advertising themselves as service friendly, in actuality are not. This is due to the reality that there is no clear definition of service. When enrolling in a school, after military service, awareness of common barriers starts with knowledge of these obstacles and how to prevail over them. There are specific characteristics of veteran-friendly schools which require consideration prior to enrolling. These include offering programs specifically designed orientation, support groups, and dedicated resource centers. Discovery Learning, problem solving and computer technology will be address these misconceptions about seeking higher education while serving the military.

It is a huge adjustment for a person to transition from civilian life into the military confronting misconceptions regarding hot issues as to family separation, basic training, cultural diversity, and discovering a different way in addressing problem solving. These adjustments are much the same as a high school graduate transitioning into their first year into college. The greater challenge is the combination of the two. Being a first college student and a new soldier in the military is an enormous endeavor and especially challenging for the US Army Education Counselors. While each soldier is unique in their quest to serve our country in the military and develop a timeline to achieve higher education achievement, as an Education Counselor – I strive to provide each soldier the finest guidance instructional plan to meet both pursuits. In constructing a common guidance instructional plan, I gather information around what a soldier knows about higher education and their goals in the military.

There are many factors I consider when providing counsel to our military soldiers to change their misconceptions regarding higher education and the military as well as how to apply discovery in knowledge they already have and relating that to problem solving in:
1.Selecting their home college
2.Choosing an academic degree plan
3.Reviewing the degree of difference in college tuition cost
4.Be in accordance with regulation and policies regarding military tuition assistance allowance
5.Utilizing computer technology in the GoArmyEd virtual gateway portal to accomplish these important tasks.

In analyzing my instructional plan in relation to the process of problem solving – I start with problem translation which focus on the most common questions that the typical soldier inquiry regarding achieving higher education and overcoming the vast challenges of their military duties in line with scheduling college courses either via online or in the classroom. In a thirty or forty-five minutes timeframe of the first initial counsel with a soldier I address two major misconceptions to strengthen a soldier awareness of critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making in achieving higher education within the military. In this area of my expertise, I gather the elements of previous knowledge of achieving higher education.

First, I address the soldiers goal and their previous academic achievement in primary education then I give a lecture on understanding the higher education accreditation of institutes in line with selecting a home college, choosing an academic degree plan, reviewing the degree of difference in college tuition cost in reference to regional and national accreditation, and staying in regulation with the military tuition assistance allowance. The focus of a soldier is their future and academic status change. My goal is to address the misconceptions regarding their future and changes required to address what they already know about post-secondary education. My guidance will provide soldiers suggestion in encouraging ways in problem-solving and reflection in accordance to discovery of oneself. Brunner’s discovery method, guided discovery reflects my lecture instructional plan for initial counsel with soldiers. Guided discovery may require more or less time than expository instruction, depending on the task, but tends to result in better long-term retention and transfer than expository instruction. Guided discovery both encourages learners to search actively for how to apply rules and makes sure that the learner learners to search activity for how to apply rules and makes sure that the learner comes into contact with the rule to be learned (Mayer, 2008).

Military servicemembers have been told all sorts of things about how they can achieve higher education/civilian education using Army tuition assistance by their recruiter or military leadership, in which the college seeking soldier develop a perceived notion about how it will be easy for them to select a college/university via the GoArmyEd website portal. The next process of problem solving involves problem integration. The fact of the matter is that it is not as easy as it is perceived. As an education counselor for the Army, it is very typical of a soldier’s visit to the Education Center for guidance on selecting a college/university. However, it is very unfortunate that a soldier is limit to an hour of time to gather information about higher education and a preview introduction of the GoArmyEd website portal. Normally, the soldier want to zip in and out of the office in a rush due to the lack of time provided to them to seek counsel and want to complete the process within 15 minutes. Soldiers have the misconception that to select a home college within GoArmyEd portal and start taking courses should only take between 15 minutes to an hour, which is not a reasonable time for a counselor to review the selected home college requirements and the US Army policies and regulation of tuition assistant requirements. In reality it should take two to three office visits with a soldier before he/she can engage in higher education using Army tuition assistance. The idea of obtaining higher education while in the Army is a difficult task, however rewarding when successfully achieved with knowledge of ones’ vision of goals striving to accomplish. In all, the soldier is able to recognize the problem of timeframe with counselor and scheduling of military duties and helps them develop questions prior to training.

In getting the servicemember engaged in seeking their higher education, I muster through the misconceptions soldiers face regarding the college selection process of obtaining higher education using Army tuition assistance. In my experience when I was seeking which college I would attend - I recall I did not have the high school guidance counselor and was totally perplexed on the idea of higher education accreditation. However, in the situation of the today soldiers I counsel, higher education accreditation is the most important factor to address especially regarding diploma mills to include how to get facts addressing the legality of degrees. It is atypical for a soldier to have their mind set on a particular college/university without the regards to higher education accreditation. The misconception in this matter is when the soldier wants to seek a national accredited non-degree granting college/university or technical training school such as Utah Truck Driving School and then want to transfer such credits to a Logistics Transportation degree program at a regional accredited college/university at such as Utah State University. In this case, the soldier gets a different outlook on selection of a home college and opens their concepts on a wider scale of college choices and academic degree plans or vocational trade. This is where the soldier arrives at the solution planning and monitoring process of problem solving.

This gives the soldier another approach to address their critical thinking and decision making institute choice. They are able to establish a possibility of two or four different college chooses and draw conclusion bases on information that they gathered. This is empowerment on their part.. In giving the soldier a different or new way to view their options – helps them make life-long connection in continuing a venture into a higher level of any academic degree or trade. The college, university, or vocational institute accreditation status indicates its quality of education services and worth of investment. Accreditation of the college, university, or vocational institute is one of the criteria for a soldier in order to utilize the Army’s tuition assistance funds. I provide a detailed explanation of accreditation award status types in addition to how to research a chosen institution status. My main objective when counseling soldiers on institute choices is for them to be familiar with what goals and career vision they seek. My best advice I give to the soldiers is to attend an institute accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. So when a college states that it is accredited – the key question is “Accredited by whom?” This is a lot of information for a soldier to think about in which they have never questioned before and it gets them to think different on making a connection to a college. Finally, in the solution execution problem solving process, the connection of discovery here present academic fulfillment with aligning all the required components in seeking higher education achievement. This leads learning through discovery, inquiry, and problem solving.

After accreditation for choosing a home college and academic degree plan – the soldier needs to problem-solve in reviewing the degree of difference in college tuition cost in reference to regional and national accreditation. This is important misconception that is addressed very often. The soldiers is told the maximum tuition assistance allowance – but still want to attend private for profit institutes or trade schools and then must come out of pocket for the remaining cost of tuition that the military will not cover nor books/fees. This is very critical to review with the soldier – especially if they are low-enlistees. Again, this guidance counsel will take about three individual training sections until the soldiers has discovered all that involves in selection of a home college in seeking higher education. Many strategies for problem solving are clearly addressed with the student to ensure they are making their choice based on looking at the higher education arena in different angels and sharpen critical thinking skills.

There is a misconception in regards to how the funds are dispersed, what the maximum tuition assistance allowed per credit hour, and a soldiers status in the military. It is amazing how misconceptions travels from one soldier to another, especially as more post-secondary institutes offers different incentives to attract soldiers eligible for the new Post-911 GI Bill. Soldiers become confused with using the tuition assistance and the veteran’s GI Bill. With this confusion, to some soldiers it is logical to try to use both collectively. The Tuition Assistance (TA) program provides financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs in support of a Soldier's professional and personal self-development goals. TA is available for courses that are offered in the classroom or by distance learning. The courses must be offered by schools that are registered in GoArmyEd and are accredited by accrediting agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. I find that it challenging to help solders under the policy and regulations that governs TA. TA is available to soldiers to complete a high school diploma and to complete certificate programs. Yet, TA will not be approved to complete credentials at the same or a lower educational level. In recent years, there have been a growing number of soldiers entering military with higher education degrees but TA is not authorized for programs beyond the master’s degree. The Department of Defense (DoD) has directed a uniform TA fiscal policy across the military services. Per semester hour cap is $250 and the fiscal year ceiling is $4,500. The Army will pay 100 percent of the tuition and authorized fees charged by a school up to the established per semester hour cap and fiscal year ceiling. The biggest misconception a soldier has is regarding TA per semester hour cap of $250 because most institutions tuition exceeds $250 per semester hour. To clear this misconception I explain to the soldier the authorized fees covered by TA are mandatory fees that are associated with an individual course enrollment. Non-refundable fees and fees that are not linked to individual course enrollments (e.g., application fees, graduation fees) are not covered by TA.

Lastly, I address the issue of misconception in the area of a combination of overcoming the vast challenges of their military duties and utilizing computer technology in the GoArmyEd virtual gateway portal. GoArmyEd is the virtual gateway for soldiers serving in the National Guard, reserves or on active duty to request Tuition Assistance (TA) online, anytime for classroom, distance learning, and eArmyU online courses. This virtual gateway is a dynamic online portal that automates many of the paper-based processes soldiers historically conducted with their Army Education Counselor. Previously 2006, soldiers were accustomed to having Education Counselors processing home college and academic degree selection, course enrollment, tuition requests and changes. Now, most of this relays on the soldier as they have web access and can enroll into courses all the time no matter where they are stationed. Sometimes, using the virtual portal can be confusing and frustrating. The key objective with the GoArmyEd portal – the soldier must enroll into the course prior to course closure as if they were on a regular college campus. The system is not the fastest and there are frequent maintenance updating. As the soldier progress with course enrollment, he must maintain a required GPA of 2.0 or higher and those with a lower GPA must first raise it and provide evidence to the Education Counselor. Mostly the GPA requirement can be much as the soldier must perform his duties in the military – and it doesn’t matter that they are enrolled into courses. The military is first. Sometimes, the soldier can get a military drop with cost to him or the military but it must be documented. With computer technology integrated within the military education system – it has made it easier for soldiers to navigate college choices and tuition cost.

To summarize, Army Education Counselors provide educational guidance to soldiers to pursue their postsecondary educational goals through the GoArmyEd.com portal where educational institutes’ delivers degree and course offerings to include reporting a soldier’s progress. The learning process for soldiers can be easily hindered and misconception in understanding higher education accreditation and utilizing Army TA.

With discovery learning, the soldier is given a set of criteria to review and reflect over to achieve that utmost adventure within the military and achieve higher education.
Reference List
Mayer, R. M. (2008). Learning and Instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
McFarland, Matt and GoArmyEd Pentagram Staff Writer (2006), GoArmyEd News, Tuition assistance procedure changes, 4/10/2006 10:00:00 AM -- 7/31/2006 12:00:00 PM. Retrieved March 30, 2011) from https://www.goarmyed.com/public/public_display_news.aspx?type=5&news_id=367
SKEP - The Psychology of learning and teaching mathematics Retrieved March 30, 2011 from http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/SKEP_The_Psychology_of_learning_and_teaching_mathematics#Introduction



Grace Olivia De Angelou is an U.S. Army Continuing Education Counselor. She is passionate about continuous service to the military community as soldiers transition out of the military into another career field. Blog comments are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense.

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