Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Grace Telesco

Committee Member

Jennifer Allen

Committee Member

Erin Castro


Behavioral Intervention, Correctional Education, Higher Education in Prison, Incarcerated Student Success, Post Secondary Correctional Education, Rehabilitation


There is a strident body of empirical research evidence that Higher Education in Prison (HEP) has a direct impact on reducing recidivism. Additionally for participants, it also increases the economic mobility and employability post-release. However, the ability to conduct randomly controlled trials with a distal measurement of recidivism is hindered due to the inconsistent industry definitions of recidivism. Considering the implementation of credit bearing college programs from California Community Colleges since Senate Bill 1391 in 2014, the study conducts statistical analysis through independent and paired t tests to determine which modality of delivery, face-to-face (F2F) or correspondence (COR), to provide a more proximate measure of HEP effectiveness that is student centered.

Using an intersegmental conceptual framework of Systems, Organizations, and Individuals, a theoretical application of the concepts of rehabilitation intervention is reviewed a priori and posteriori to demonstrate the intersegmental alignment of higher education in prison and the need of more proximate measures of effectiveness than recidivism metrics. Student-outcome data is better suited to determine if the implementation of HEP program modality is effective and allows pragmatic policy implementations or course corrections in a more standardized and immediate evaluative cycle. A large population (N = 197,293) of all enrollments from face-to-face and correspondence modalities over 24 academic terms from 2012-2020 academic years demonstrated the face-to-face modality was more effective in student success (F2F M=.816, COR M = .683), retention (F2F M = .911, COR M = .903), and had a direct impact on improving student success for correspondence after the implementation of SB 1391 in 2014.