An Experiential Learning Approach to Corrections for University Students

M. Kay Harris, Temple University

This paper provies an overview of methods used and explores the value of an experiential learning approach for an undergraduate course on correctional rehabilitation. In a class scheduled for one afternoon a week to facilitate field work, students alternate between sessions in the classroom and site visits to prisons, jails and detention centers, and community corrections programs where they interact with staff and residents. To help the students translate their off-campus experiences into easily accessible, generalizable knowledge, this pedagogy includes reflection, assessment/critical analysis, linkage to existing knowledge and theory, and evaluation of the experience.

The paper will explore beliefs about ways in which this pedagogical approach can enhance learning and advance specific academic goals, including increasing competence (skills and knowledge), encouraging active student participation and empowerment, and building and nuturing student growth and relationships. In addition, it will consider how experiential learning can promote improved public policy and important social values, including commitment to service, social change and racial understanding.

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Updated 05/20/2006