Application of a strategic learning approach and cognitive assessment of readiness for training in a criminal rehabilitation context
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One purpose of this research was to investigate whether a cognitive approach developed for business and industry could be usefully added to other measures in the assessment of recently incarcerated criminal trainees' readiness to benefit from and progress in a cognitive skills training program titled 'Dignity, Encouragement, Truthfulness, Optimism, Uniqueness, Respect' (DETOUR). Another important purpose of this study was to obtain data relevant to the role of strategic learning and, in particular, to Weinstein's Model of Strategic Leaming (1994), and to related conceptualizations such as Salomon and Perkins' suggestions about the teaching of thinking skills (1987). Eighty volunteer inmates housed in a state prison transfer facility, selected by the prison school district staff to participate in the DETOUR program, comprised the subject pool. Although participants were not randomly assigned for this study, they were representative of the state prison system population in age, IQ, grade equivalency, and length of sentence. Participants were pre- and post-tested on three self-report instruments, two of which were cognitive, the START and the Criminal Sentiments Scale (CSS), and one behavioral instrument, the Client Behavior Report (CBR), and several other measures available from the DETOUR program. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the START, when added to the independent variables age, IQ, grade equivalency, and number of times incarcerated, increased the adjusted variance predicted by these independent variables from 4.7% to 23.9% on the CSS outcome measure, a statistically significant increase. Within subjects T-tests revealed that the DETOUR program significantly and positively affected students' scores on all three instruments. Also, a large number of significant relationships among sub-scales of these instruments appeared to be of theoretical and practical interest. The results of this study substantiate the usefulness of a cognitive strategies approach to assessing inmates in a state prison training environment, and support the START instrument's convergent validity (Campbell, 1996). Results of this study also were consistent with components of Weinstein's Model of Strategic Leaming and Salomon and Perkins' high road/low road model of transfer.