The Challenge of Individualized Instruction in Corrections

McKee, John M.; Clements, Carl B.
September 2000
Journal of Correctional Education;Sep2000, Vol. 51 Issue 3, p270
Academic Journal
Given the apparent suitability of individualized instruction for correctional clients, it is surprising that uniform guidelines for implementing such instruction are not readily available. Also, results of systematically conducted programs are not routinely reported. In this article, we pose 14 challenges faced by correctional educators in implementing individualized instruction. Each challenge is developed in the context of available knowledge and our own experience in working with adult offenders. The hallmarks of individualized instruction are described with particular emphasis on a systems approach that includes: A theory-driven model of behavior change, specification of learning goals, assessment of skills, and a focused prescription of instructional lessons that promote and shape academic skills. Motivational tools also are a central component of effective systems. We argue that the successful instructional environment encourages students to become independent learners. This goal initially requires sustained and frequent attention by the instructor or learning manager to the student's performance and alteration of the prescription if lesson completion and post-test success are not occurring at a high rate. In addition to describing our own success with programmed instructional materials, we review other validated approaches such as Direct Instruction and Precision Teaching. We also suggest that some traditional instructional tools can be integrated with individualized approaches. The recommendations in this article should provide a basis for constructing a highly accountable and successful—educational program.


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