Paper No. 97-13
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM
SPACE BEHIND BARS: GEOLOGY, ASTRONOMY AND PLANETARY SCIENCE FOR INCARCERATED STUDENTS AT EYMAN STATE PRISON, AZ
In the Spring of 2019, a group of graduate students from Arizona State University (ASU) began teaching geology, astronomy and planetary science at Eyman State Prison in Florence, AZ. This course is taught using a collaborative teaching model, which currently involves ~16 volunteer graduate students from four different schools at ASU. Graduate student instructors create the syllabus, develop course content, teach, and evaluate student performance. This teaching model has the advantage of a low weekly time commitment for graduate students (~3 hours/week on average) so instructors do not have to spend excessive time away from their own studies. In addition, the broad range of instructor expertise benefits both the instructors and students at the facility. Each class is co-developed by two or more instructors in the relevant field of study, practiced in front of the entire teaching team for feedback, revised by the co-instructors, and delivered to the inmates in a two-hour class period once per week. The collaborative teaching model helps to develop student instructors’ teaching skills, both for content and teaching style. During practice lessons prior to each week’s class, the co-instructors practice their lesson for the other instructors, who then provide feedback. By providing feedback to lessons outside their field of study, instructors gain better scientific literacy and learn new effective teaching styles. In addition to teacher benefits, the inmates receive valuable socialization and academic skills otherwise not provided to them in prison. Studies have shown that prison education programs help reduce recidivism rates, which means that inmates who take classes while in prison are less likely to return to prison after they are released. In this presentation, we will explore the benefits of our team-teaching model, how it can be applied to traditional classroom settings, lessons that have been the most successful in this setting, the challenges associated with prison teaching, and the benefits that prison education programs can provide to society as a whole.