Understanding the Barriers to and Educational Value of Student Participation in Prison Tours

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Danielle Murdoch, Department of Criminology

Project team: Sarah Stanley, research assistant

Timeframe: January 2017 to July 2018

Funding: $5875

Courses addressed:

  • CRIM 213 – Women and Justice
  • CRIM 241 – Introduction to Corrections
  • CRIM 343 – Correctional Practice

Final report: View Danielle Murdoch's final report (PDF)

Description: This project is designed to identify barriers to student participation in optional prison tours, student motivation to attend the prison tours, how student participation in prison tours contributes to their learning and understanding of course materials, and recommendations to improve future prison tours.

Questions addressed:

  • Why are students motivated to attend the tours?
  • What barriers prevent students from signing up to attend the tours?
  • Were students able to apply the concepts / weekly readings to various aspects of the tour?
  • What recommendations for improvements do students have for the instructor following their participation in the tour?
  • How did participation in the prison tour impact student learning and understanding of the course materials?  

Knowledge sharing: I will share the final report with my colleagues in the School of Criminology who coordinate prison tours for their students.

Murdoch, D.J., (2017, May). Engaging students in optional experiential learning activities: A case study of student participation in prison tours. Presentation at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning : Voices of Diversity and Inclusion: Vulnerabilities, Tensions, and Opportunities, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.

Murdoch, D. J. (2019, February). Prison tours: Education and "a lesson for the soul and humanity". In D. J. Murdoch (Chair), Facilitating Learning and Assessment in Criminology and Criminal Justice Education. Symposium conducted at the 46th Western Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI.

Keywords: Experiential learning; Barriers to participation in experiential learning; Prison tours; Carceral tours; Imprisonment; Pedagogy