Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stewart I Donaldson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Deborah Carter

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Dina Maramba

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Higher Education, Military Veterans, Positive Education, Positive Psychology, Student Veterans, Well-Being and PERMA


There is a dearth of empirical evidence on post-9/11 student veterans and what makes them successful in their transition from military service to postsecondary education. This study primarily examined post-9/11 student service members'/veterans' (SSM/Vs) positive functioning (i.e., the building blocks of well-being) as a predictor of their academic performance. Positive psychology through Seligman's (2010) PERMA model and Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1993) were used as the guiding theoretical frameworks. An SSM/V sample of convenience (N = 199) was derived from seven colleges and universities in three U.S. states. The following hypotheses were tested mostly using logistic regression: SSM/Vs' positive functioning will be positively related to their academic performance (i.e., self-reported GPA, perceptions of being on time towards program completion, and beliefs of meeting academic goals); SSM/Vs' perceived positive university environment (i.e., social climate) and sense of belonging (i.e., psychological sense of community) will likely be positively related to their academic performance. Additionally, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to assess the factor structure of a well-being measure, Positive Functioning at Work Scale (PF-W, Donaldson 2019; Donaldson & Donaldson, 2021). The findings from the study indicate that positive functioning is a predictor of SSM/Vs' academic performance and explain up to 18% of the variance. The findings also confirm the original factor structure of the PF-W scale. CFA model suggested a good fit for the data: [chi]2 =38.064, p < 0.009, [chi]2 /df = 1.903 CFI=.969, TLI = .957, SRMR =0.045, RMSEA = 0.067. SSM/Vs' positive perceptions of campus environment and sense of belonging only partially predicted academic performance. The results of this study serve to inform theory, research, and practice for institutions of higher learning specifically on the value of SSM/V well-being on academic performance. Additionally, the study highlights the importance of assessing and promoting well-being in SSM/Vs to facilitate a successful transition in and out of higher education. Future research and application of college/university-wide positive psychology interventions are recommended for further exploration.