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The United States Air Force (USAF) recognizes the importance of education and has instituted numerous programs to satisfy the educational needs of the Air Force and its personnel.

The Air Force has initiated training at all levels, from the basic recruit to the officer corps; from the lowest ranking airman to senior leadership. Air University (AU), established in 1946, serves both the officer and enlisted corps, offering degree programs and professional continuing education for officers and professional military education (PME) to all Air Force members. AU serves the enlisted community through the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). The CCAF
was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 12, 1973, and is the only 2‐year institution exclusively serving enlisted personnel. It offers enlisted personnel the associate in applied science (AAS) degree in programs designed for Air Force specialties. Since the CCAF awarded its first associate of applied science (AAS) degree in April 1977, the college has awarded more than 335,000 AAS degrees as of November 2009 (Air University, n.d.). Training for the enlisted force begins with basic military training (BMT) conducted at Lackland AFB, Texas.

Upon graduation from BMT, the recruit continues Air Force specialty (AFS) training at one of the five Air Education and Training Command (AETC) centers which are located at Goodfellow AFB,Texas; Lackland AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas; Keesler AFB, Mississippi; and Vandenburg AFB,California.

Background/Significance of the Study

According to the Air Force Personnel Center’s (AFPC) demographics as of September 30,2010, the average age of the 263,437 enlisted personnel is 29; of these, 44% are below the age of 26. Most enlisted personnel have a high school education (99.9%), 70.1% have some college,19.3% have an associate’s degree or equivalent semester hours, 5.7% have a bachelor’s degree,1% have a master’s degree, and 0.01% have a professional or doctoral degree (AFPC, n.d.). The mission of AETC is to “Develop America’s Airman today . . . for tomorrow” (AETC, n.d.). To fulfill this mission, AETC’s vision is to “deliver unrivaled air, space, and cyberspace education and training” (AETC, 2008b). The primary challenge for meeting this mission is how best to train today’s new recruits and at the same time bridge the generation gap between instructors (civilian and/or military) who are in the baby boomer generation (born from 1946 to 1964) or Generation‐X (born from 1965 to 1979) and the recruits who are in the Millennial Generation (born from 1980 to 2001) (AETC, 2008a).

Air Force Manual 36‐2236, Guidebook for Air Force Instructors (2003), offers practical guidelines for teaching adult learners, especially in a military environment. The manual states that successful teaching will result in a change in students’ behavior. It encourages creativity in the classroom and warns against instruction that is too traditional, “dry‐as‐dust presentations that are more like briefings than real teaching lectures” (Air Force Manual 36‐2236, 2003, p, 22).

AETC instructors are active duty personnel, individuals who have retired from the military, and other civilian personnel, ranging in age from the mid 20s to the mid 60s. Unfortunately, many of these instructors are from the Baby Boomer generation and some from Generation X. Prensky (2001a) calls these individuals “digital immigrants,” who find it difficult to speak the language of the digital natives, are reluctant to incorporate creativity into their presentations, assume that learners are the same as they always have been, and are more comfortable using traditional,
stand‐up lectures in their classroom.