Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The ability of the Department of Defense to recruit and retain adequate members in the All Volunteer Force constitutes a significant political, economic, and social issue. As the economy improves, recruitment and retention of enlisted personnel challenge military planners. High attrition rates of the past indicate that the full potential of recruits is not being achieved. Each year, over 40,000 youth enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Of this number, approximately 88 percent successfully meet the demands of recruit training and graduate from one of two Marine Corps Recruit Training Depots located at San Diego, California and Parris Island, South Carolina. The other 12 percent are discharged for medical, psychological, behavioral, and other reasons. Since a significant difference in recruit training existed between the two recruit depots, the purpose of this study was to analyze the socio psychological factors affecting Marine Corps recruit training attrition. The research questions encompassed recruit expectancies, preferred leadership traits peer influence, and recruit self-esteem. In addition, the leadership styles and performance realities of Marine drill instructors were analyzed. Random samples were taken from two populations by using a random number table. Two hundred thirty Marine recruits were randomly selected from 1,100 recruits at Parris Island. One hundred drill instructors were randomly selected from 400 instructors at the same site. Two survey instruments were used during the study. In January 1986, 223 Marine recruits responded to a two-part questionnaire consisting of 25 biographical questions and 25 descriptive statements to which each respondent assessed himself a numerical grade from a scale of zero to three for each statement. After graduation, a comparison was made between 177 Marine recruit graduates and 20 recruit dropouts. The two groups were similar except the dropouts did not graduate. Another comparison was made between 28 older and 44 younger Marine drill instructors relative to leadership styles and performance realities. Both groups were similar except one group was older than the mean age for the sample. The drill instructors responded to a leadership evaluation by rating a least-preferred co-worker. Each respondent assessed himself a numerical score for each statement on the performance evaluation. Six hypotheses were formulated and tested with 0.1 as the acceptable probability level. The hypotheses were expressed relative to the research questions. Three hypotheses were tested by the chi square calculation and three by the t-test. In relation to the recruit expectancies, the results of the study indicated a significant difference between the expectancies (adaptability, difficulty of training, and physical conditioning) of recruit graduates and dropouts. A significant difference between leadership traits (evaluative, impartial, objective and understanding) preferred by recruit graduates and dropouts was revealed. No significant difference was noted between peer influence on recruit graduates and recruit dropouts. The results of the study indicated a significant difference between the leadership styles of older and younger Marine drill instructors. No significant difference between the performance realities of older and younger drill instructors was noted. As recruit attrition rates for specific drill instructors were not released, the study failed to reveal how the leadership styles and performance realities of the drill instructors affected recruit training attrition. Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that: (1) the responses to the recruit questionnaire be made available to Marine recruiters and drill instructors: 02) more accurate representation of the Marine Corps organization be provided prospective recruits: (3) Marine Corps officials enhance the recruit assimilation process by heightening group cohesiveness and providing reality oriented training, and (4) the self-esteem evaluation be used as a pre-enlistment test for interested applicants. A longitudinal study was recommended to discover long-term results of administering the self-esteem test to prospective Marine recruits.

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