Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Interpersonal Communication Skills were identified as essential competencies for success and career advancement in the Criminal Justice system. In order to meet this need the Correctional Services Program offers a three credit course entitled, "Human Relations in Criminal Justice." The college and Correctional Services Program, also, have adopted the experiential learning model to enhance the performance of first and second year students in this critical area. Although, the experiential learning approach was chosen as the vehicle for instructing the course in Human Relations, there was a lack of evidence to prove the effectiveness of this learning theory for promoting change and growth in the interpersonal communication skills of students with diverse learning characteristics. The purpose of this causal comparative research study was; to determine, if first year correctional services students improved their interpersonal communication skills as a result of the experiential learning process. If so, what influence did learning style, age and gender have on the interpersonal growth and development of the participants? The data on the dependent variable, or interpersonal communications gain scores, was collected by means of the Interpersonal Communications Inventory Bienvenue; 1974). It was administered to a randomly assigned sample of first year students on the first and last day of the human relations course. Data on the independent variables; learning style, age, gender, was collected on the first day of class by means of the Learning Style Inventory(Kolb; 1978). The results were analyzed and compared by using the dependent T-Test, Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance, and Chi-square tests, to test the significance differences between two or more sample proportions. The general and specific findings of this practicum showed that there was significant overall difference(p>.05) or change between the pre and post lest scores of all participants in a positive direction. These results indicated that the experiential learning method was effective in promoting growth in interpersonal communications skills. The effects of the moderating variables of learning styles, age and gender were controlled and analyzed. The results demonstrated that there were no significant differences found in the gain scores between the three different learning style groups. However, when the 1-Test analysis was applied to pre and post test scores within each of the three groups, the results showed that the Assimilator learning style group made significant gains in Interpersonal Communication Skills. The results showed that the moderating variable " age category" did not have a significant influence on the gain scores between or within the three age groups. However, it was found that gender was a significant moderating variable. It was, also, found that male participants improved and gained more in interpersonal communication skills than the female participants. It was concluded that the experiential learning process was effective in promoting overall group behavior change, regardless of age or learning style preference. A normative evaluation of the findings was conducted and discussed in the light of the findings of current research studies found in the literature review. It was recommended that the both students and instructors be introduced to the principles of experiential learning through workshop formats It was also, suggested that both instructors and students be made aware of the importance of learning style for improving learning and teaching. It was, also, recommended that the experiential learning process be adapted to courses in other disciplines, divisions and programs including agency field-placements to enhance academic and career preparation which are major goals of the college, program and majority of students.

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