In Focus

Student Demographics and Classroom Pedagogy Post-9/11

So many books that we published in 2014–2015 have great stories behind them and are making impacts in their respective fields that singling out any of them seems like a disservice to the whole. That said, there is one title that deserves special mention, and that is Generation Vet: Composition, Student Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University edited by Sue Doe and Lisa Langstraat at Colorado State University.

In "Preparing to Serve Those Who Served Us: Helping Social Work Field Educators Prepare Veterans for Internships" (Field Educator, Spring 2012), Katherine Selber and Nancy Chavkin open by stating that with "the passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, commonly known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military personnel and veterans are enrolling at an unprecedented rate in institutions of higher education." Obviously, this creates many different challenges for colleges and universities as they attempt to transition veterans from "combat to college" and provide a base of support for the former soldiers and their families. This includes medical support in many cases, as noted by Sandra G. Boodman in Kaiser Health News (November 2011).

But in additional to medical and social support, there are also pedagogical issues for those teaching this new type of student, especially in courses required university-wide such as freshman composition. In Generation Vet, Doe and Langstraat note that while many campus divisions like admissions and student services are actively moving to accommodate the rise in this demographic, little research about this population and their educational needs is available, and academic departments have been slower to adjust. This book is meant as a corrective, offering well-researched, pedagogically savvy recommendations for curricular and programmatic responses to student veterans for English and writing studies departments.

As the editors write in the introduction, "our own personal histories in regard to military service have driven our interest and sustained our commitment to the issues that have emerged in this collection." Sue Doe is married to a career Corps of Engineers Army officer, and Lisa Langstraat is the daughter of a career Army warrant officer. It is their sincere hope that Generation Vet "will spark greater awareness of our students who, as military dependents," bring a very particular set of experiences with them when they walk onto the college campus.