Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Audrey Rabas, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jessica deValentino, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Paul Frankenhauser, Jr., Ph.D.


Research projects concerning correctional education are common in the recent literature; however, little focus has been placed on the perceptions of the incarcerated students on the impact of correctional education programs on their post-release vocational aspirations. Men in a state prison, housed in the lower-risk classification unit, who were enrolled in both academic and vocational education programs participated. Qualitative narrative inquiry and self-determination theory (SDT) framed this study. Fourteen participants completed a researcher-developed open-ended question survey, which provided a forum for each to express his perceptions and experiences with the educational programming at the facility. Findings showed an abundance of the satisfaction of the needs for autonomy and competence. In some cases, the need for relatedness was satisfied. Themes throughout the findings demonstrated the satisfaction of some aspects of SDT; however, none of the themes indicated that all three of the elements of SDT had been met. Additionally, in the themes, participants demonstrated forms of autonomous, extrinsic motivation. The most common motivations were regulation through identification and integrated regulation. The participants were, in general, satisfied with their programs; however, each identified some areas for improvement. The participants demonstrated a desire to continue to learn and remain on a path toward personal transformation. The participants were also focused on successful community reintegration and long-term employment goals.

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