Making the transition


Photo courtesy of Master Sargeant Bill Wiseman/Iowa Air National Guard

The transition from military service to the classroom is the focus of WSC professor Rich Murphy’s doctoral study. As a former member of the military Murphy is studying the way different group identities affect classroom expectations.

Laura Anderson, Staff Writer

Assistant professor Rich Murphy is looking for military veterans to participate in a survey to help him complete his doctoral thesis. Veterans from any branch of the military, including the National Guard, are invited to participate in the survey.

Murphy, who served in the Air Force for four years and the Air National Guard for 12 years, knows the struggle some vets face acclimating to college life after active duty.

“I found that I approached my classes in a way inconsistent with how ‘traditional students’ did. In the military, our culture was more about pragmatic, do it yourself training. What was valued in military training was efficiency,” said Murphy, who teaches in the department of communication arts.

“College was different. Our professors valued discussion, reflection and independent thought.”
Murphy hopes to complete his doctorate in May and needs about 30 more vets to get a stronger sample for his study.

His thesis is about experiences that military veterans face in the classroom while concentrating on models of instructional communication strategies.

He wants to see how students develop group identities that affect the academic experience. Murphy is conducting his research with veterans but will eventually study other student groups because he believes that each group has different expectations in the classroom.

He’s looking for students that are currently enrolled, served in any branch of the military or Guard and are at least 19 years-old. There is some incentive involved in participating as well.

Veterans who participate will get a coupon card that has discounts at such locations as Subway, Pizza Hut and Casey’s as well as places in Norfolk and Sioux City like Taco John’s and Hy-Vee. During this upcoming fall semester, he wants to present his results and talk about what this experience means for both college professors and vets alike.

Vets interested in taking part in the study can take the survey at or contact Murphy via email [email protected]