Bringing Incarcerated Juveniles and College Students Together: An Outcome and Process Evaluation of a Collaborative Course

Michael S. Vigorita, Rowan College

For the last three years, Rowan University has been offering a semester-long course bringing together 12 university students and 12 incarcerated, juvenile offenders. The course is intended to achieve several goals related to the youth and the students. This paper presents the outcome and process evaluation of the course. Pr- and post-test data were collected for each cohort. Outcome data demonstrate that the youth: felt accepted by the students, did not feel labeled, were more likely to see college as a genuine goal, and saw themselves as substantially similar to the college students--in short, the course allowed them to feel that they belong in a college environment. For the students, the data show increased tolerance levels, a change in their feelings on the importance of rehabilitation, a lower degree of confidence in the system and a positive view of the educational impact of the course. Analysis also demonstrates that the youth and the students are similar in many respects, but differ significantly on several attitudinal factors related to the causes of juvenile offending. Reasons for these similarities and differences are discussed. Process evaluation is also discussed as it relates to the implementation of the course.

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Updated 05/20/2006