Date of Conferral







Carla Lane-Johnson


Research and testimonial evidence indicate the importance of postsecondary education in the rehabilitating inmates and in decreasing reoffending. However, limited research exists on improving critical thinking skills and cognitive processing among inmates. The purpose of this quantitative study was to (a) examine the influence of a psychology course on the critical thinking scores for individuals who took an online psychology course and to (b) analyze how the scores of inmates and other students in the course differed. Using a social cognitive theoretical framework, pretest and posttest scores were compared using a paired t test of statistical analysis of secondary, archival data (n = 25).Secondary data analysis using ANOVA was used to examine the effect of the course on inmates' test scores after course completion. Results indicated that critical thinking skills improved for all students; there was no significant difference based on incarceration status. The outcomes of this study, as well as future data on graduation and recidivism rates, need to be integrated into policy and programs developed for correctional facilities, collegiate classrooms, and for other professionals. It is recommended that correctional facilities, colleges, legislators, and other organizations with direct impact on inmates should collect and analyze these specific variables in a longitudinal study. The results can be used to improve the delivery of online courses offered to inmates, thereby improving opportunities for inmates, easing reentry into society at large, and resulting in positive social change.