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Participation in Prison Education: Is It a Question of Reading and Writing Self-Efficacy Rather than Actual Skills?

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2013 Pages: 41-62
Lise Oen Jonesa; Terje Mangerb; Ole-Johan Eikeland; Arve Asbjornsen
Date Published
May 2013
22 pages
This study examined whether higher levels of reading and writing skills affected inmates' participation levels in prison education programs.
The aim of the present study was to examine whether reading or writing self-efficacy rather than actual skills could predict participation in prison education when controlled for age, sentence length, and education level. Six hundred subjects from a representative sample of prisoners in Norway completed a questionnaire, and a sub-sample of 92 of these subjects also completed a standardized reading and spelling test. A logistic regression analysis indicated that higher efficacy beliefs with regard to writing increased the likeliness of participating in prison education, while actual reading or spelling skills did not predict participation. Younger prisoners were more likely to participate compared to older ones. Prisoners with longer sentences were twice as likely to participate in prison education as those with shorter sentences, and those who self-reported a diagnosis of specific reading and spelling difficulties/dyslexia were twice as likely to participate and those not reporting such difficulties. This is in line with former studies in countries with relatively short sentences. (Published Abstract)