Term of Award

2003

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 1

Catherine Wooddy

Committee Member 2

Fred Page

Committee Member 3

Nicholas L. Henry

Abstract

The present research was dedicated to uncovering sociolinguistic coupling mechanisms, specifically the metaphor, and their role in the infusion of higher education in the U S .Army It was argued that levels of ambiguity connected to inter-sociolect lexicons embedded within sociolect-specific metaphors may impede effective communication between officers and senior enlisted personnel regarding the role of higher education in the overall U. S. Army mission Information gained from this research is dedicated to the development of how the U.S military can better infuse higher education into its ongoing professional development programs. A qualitative interview method was used to conduct the research Eleven Respondents, six enlisted, five officers, were asked to speak freely about how they would describe the Army Continuing Education Systems (ACES) and other continuing educational programs in general. Respondents were also asked to speak freely about how they perceived how a higher education may (or may not) impact lower ranking enlisted personnel These questions were posed to the respondents from the perspective that they were communicating their point of view to either superior or subordinate ranking personnel.

The proposed study was designed to answer the following overarching question: Within a U. S Army installation, what are the possible semantic misinterpretations that may surround various metaphors used between officer and senior enlisted cadre during the infusion process associated with encouraging lower-enlisted personnel to engage in the Army's ACES professional development program? The proposed study addressed the following sub-questions:

  1. What metaphors do military officers use to describe the ACES program when they communicate with the senior enlisted cadre?
  2. What metaphors do military officer cadre use when communicating with senior enlisted cadre to describe how higher education serves lower ranking enlisted personnel in their role in the overall Army mission relative to developing critical thinking skills within the increasingly technologically sophisticated combat environment?
  3. What metaphors do military officers use to describe the ACES program when they communicate with senior enlisted cadre?
  4. What metaphors do senior enlisted military cadre use when communicating with officers to describe how higher education serves lower ranking enlisted personnel in their role in the overall Army mission relative to developing critical thinking skills within increasingly technologically sophisticated combat environment?
  5. What, if any, lexical argots exist within officer and senior enlisted sociolects that may create semantic misinterpretation of metaphors applied to the ACES program and its role within the U S Army? That is. how do officers and senior enlisted personnel interpret their respective metaphors?

The present study was predicated on research indicating that socio-economic differences tend to undermine communication within social subcultures, the results obtained in the present study did not support this assertion Unexpectedly, however, both officer and enlisted samples either alluded to, or stated forthrightly, that level of formal education has in their view an intrinsic status component that often paralleled (if not superseded) the traditional military ranking system. Most respondents supported the idea that present rank-attainment protocols are linked to level of formal education. Further, it was noted that formal education was connected to a greater ability to engage in critical thinking under stress, and thus was seen as an important leadership component.

None of the interviewees reported having difficulty understanding the metaphors and/or lexical sets used by either officer or enlisted personnel. The proposition that some level of ambiguity between officer and enlisted sociolects exists in the U S Army was not supported in the present research. The present research did not indicate that enlisted personnel were in any way more negative toward higher education than officers. Of note, however, was that both officer and enlisted interviewees provided metaphors supportive of the notion that higher education is superseding high school as America's educational standard. It also noted that the present informal organizational status structure within the military might be transitioning, privileging level education over military rank.

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