Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Todd McCardle

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Second Advisor

Raymond A. Lauk

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Third Advisor

Stacey J. Korson

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership


The experience of students that are incarcerated is largely unknown. This qualitative phenomenological research study allowed four college students that are incarcerated to share their experiences. Research shows individuals who are incarcerated are less likely to reoffend this study upon release. This study will show how these individuals view their educational experience during incarceration. Interviews were conducted with each participant and data was coded and organized into themes. By utilizing a phenomenological stance, observations were made of events that led to the placement of participants in the prison system and how education has impacted their time spent incarcerated. Themes discovered included the importance of knowledge, personal benefits of correctional education, support on the inside, and a need for diversified programs. Findings from this study will help local colleges prepare education programs for prisons as federal financial aid becomes available to those who are incarcerated in July 2023. Each participant shared their educational experiences, ideas of how to move the program forward, a desire to help their peers see the opportunities even if they are behind bars, and a desire to make their families proud. Along with these experiences, the participants were open about how the education program changed their day-to-day lives. Each spoke of the importance of routine and staying busy to keep a strong mind and emphasized learning a new subject or trade helped them do this.

“The most powerful weapon one can use to change the world is education” – Nelson Mandela