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Title: Civilian to officer : threshold concepts in military officers' education
Author: Syed-Mohamed, Ahmad Thamrini Fadzlin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 8036
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
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This research discusses the threshold concepts in Military Officers’ Education (MOE) at military institutions that also provide tertiary level education. Unlike other higher education systems, the military education programme is designed to transform civilians into soldiers and train military officers who are able to face the nation’s future security challenges. The rules of technical preparation of military personnel and military leaders have been widely focused on but very little attention has been given to understanding the difficult conceptual and personal shifts entailed in such training. In this study, the threshold concepts theory provides a helpful analytical tool to examine the process deemed necessary for a transformation from civilian status to thinking and practising as a soldier and consequently, a military officer. Combined with phenomenography, as the research methodology, this research involved seven higher ranking officers, twenty-four military trainers, and twenty-nine officer cadets from two reputable military education institutions in Europe. The in-depth interviews explore the learning process in becoming an officer through experiences which involve learning about military practice in university settings. The findings show that there are two ontological shifts that transform a civilian into an officer – Phase I: Civilian to Soldier, and Phase II – Soldier to Officer. During Phase I, the first ontological shift in becoming a soldier involves the acceptance of discipline and obedience, recognition of a framework of related ethics and values, loyalty to the unit (collective above individual needs) and a sense of obligation. Meanwhile, Phase II requires a soldier to understand the concept of personal responsibility for the execution of mission, putting others before self, and the ‘power to command’ to complete the transformation to become a military officer. Apart from the identified ontological shifts and the threshold concepts to become an officer, the study also extended the current understanding of ‘liminality’ by offering new possible responses to the liminal experience. Drawing from the analysis of the empirical data, the study establishes that certain cadets do not essentially have to follow pre-described path to become an officer. Rather, they are capable of conforming to the well-established community of practice whilst feel empowered to intervene actively during the learning process by questioning, and refashioning received ideas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available