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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kristi S. Potts
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Voices of Parolees who have Chosen a Community College Element within a Reentry Program
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Lester Wright
Date: Monday, October 24, 2011 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe and understand how parolees experience participation in the community college element of a reentry program. This program was located in a Midwestern county and the parolees who chose to participate in the higher education aspect of this reentry program were a small subset of those who participated in the overall reentry program. Research questions included: What influences a parolees’ decision to enroll in the community college element within a reentry program? How do such parolees describe their experiences as a student in a community college? How do such parolees describe the influence of being a community college student on their lives? One-on-one interviews with 11 parolee college students were used to gain the perspective of the parolee in relation to community college experience.
Major themes that emerged from the data include: parolees enrolled in community college like the college environment and taking college classes; they are role models for their families; and different as college students than they were prior to going into prison; most had no encouragement by parent(s) to take college classes prior to being released to the community; the main challenge of being a college student is studying/homework; goals for the future include completing the college program and obtaining (better) employment; and parolees enrolled in community college had no encouragement by corrections/reentry program to take college classes.
The findings of this study provide higher education, corrections, and reentry programs a well-rounded perspective on the parolee student experiences and allows them to make more informed decisions about their services in order to optimize students’ experiences, as well as students’ learning.