Barriers to Inmate Education: Factors That Affect the Dynamics of a Prison Education Program

John Stuart Batchelder, North Georgia College & State University

The dynamics affecting a prison education program that employed the combination of traditional instruction with computer-assisted instruction (CAI) were examined to identify and make recommendations about barriers to quality inmate education. Quantitative and qualitative evidence was acquired through testing of inmates and interviews with the inmates and staff. The quantitative evidence revealed no significant difference in inmate math and reading scores were found between subjects who received a CAI-plus-traditional instruction combination and subjects who received traditional-instruction only. The qualitative evidence was synthesized into five factors unique to inmate education that influenced the results and may assist with future research in this area. The factors included (1) inmate attitude toward testing and evaluations, (2) inmate motivation for participating, (3) lack of teacher support, (4) the dynamics of inmate interaction and prisonization, and (5) quality of instructional materials or software utilized.

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Updated 05/20/2006