Effects of computer-assisted instruction on male inmate math and reading achievement scores
The efficacy of using computer-assisted instruction (CAI) with male inmates participating in the prison education program at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI) was determined through an experimental study. Inmates in the program were randomly assigned either to an experimental group that received a CAI-plus-traditional instruction combination or to a control group that received traditional instruction only. During a 4-week period each CAI group inmate received 1 hour of computer-assisted instruction in addition to 3 hours of traditional classroom instruction per day. The control group inmates received only traditional classroom instruction for 4 hours per day. Pretest scores on the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) served as covariates in determining differences between the two groups on the CASAS posttests. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the composite and independent effects of CAI on CASAS posttest scores. The four weeks of participation in the education program did not produce statistically significant gains for inmates in either the experimental group or the control group. Also, there was no statistically significant differences between the scores of inmates in the experimental group and inmates in the control group, and hence, no quantitative evidence that computers alone could produce superior academic achievement of incarcerated students in an education program when used in an experimental design. However, interviews with the participants and instructors at the prison produced quantitative evidence that suggests the advantages of computer-assisted instruction for inmates may extend beyond improvements in standardized test scores alone.