A qualitative phenomenological case study exploring correctional education : in the absence of humanizing pedagogical praxis among incarcerated men.


Incarcerated men look to the classroom as a refuge to learn, grow, and develop, departing from their typical, everyday environment where devaluation is the norm. Unfortunately, the absence of a humanizing pedagogical praxis exposes the danger of the classroom’s inability to restore human dignity, implicitly perpetuating incarcerated men as less than human beings. Despite the abundance of literature about how correctional education lowers recidivism, attributing to its effectiveness, research finds “no reliable figures on the educational attainment of inmates participating in correctional education” (Kline & Tolbert, 2017, p. 287). Among incarcerated men, undependable findings limited addressing emotional wholeness and restoring human dignity as the shortcomings. In two separate focus groups, six formerly incarcerated men explored correctional education to understand better how incarcerated men learn best, absent of a humanizing pedagogical praxis. The chosen method for this qualitative, phenomenological case study encompassed a purposeful criterion, maximum variation sampling strategy, complimentary of a snowball approach. Intentionally drawing from the research questions separately, the design’s strength in methodological congruence with the Humanistic Learning and Identity Theories frameworks led to the key findings. This research argued that correctional education in its current state contributed little to self-actualization. Instead, many incarcerated men found themselves struggling with their emotional selves, inhibiting their full learning potential. Furthermore, not acknowledging incarcerated men as human beings, recognizing their learning needs as essential, social interaction, personal identity formation, trust, and respect led to not realizing their inherent possibilities as their human right to learn, grow and develop. Though PourAli et al. (2016) suggested that education systems should focus on positive outcomes for all students when “limiting the student’s opportunities” (p. 313) became a psychological deficit. But when correctional education compromised their learning experiences by making incarcerated men feel undeserving of an education because of their prison attire, it failed to meet the mark to ensure learning in humanizing ways. For incarcerated men, dignity represented the most fundamental aspect of their human spirit, anchoring them to the center of their being in recognizing their goals and needs in the totality of reaching their full potential as a human being’s fundamental right.



Anticipated stigma. Barriers. Culturally relevant pedagogies. Humanizing pedagogies. Implicit bias. Incarcerated men. Identity theory. Intersectionality. Moral experience. Perceived stigma. Stereotype threat. Stigma.