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Research-Based Resources

LINCS Special Collections include research resources that support evidence-based education. Evidence-based education  is described by Grover Whitehurst, the Director of the Institute for Educational Sciences, as “the integration of professional wisdom with the best available empirical evidence in making decisions about how to deliver instruction” where professional wisdom is “the judgment individuals acquire through experience” and empirical evidence is “scientifically-based research” and “empirical data on performance used to compare, evaluate and monitor progress” (Whitehurst, 2002). This research page provides access to current scientifically-based research in LINCS Special Collections’ various content areas. In support of evidence-based education, this page provides access to three guides for understanding and using research, four places to look for new research in adult education and literacy, plus recommendations of the best research currently available in the field of Correctional Education.

Three useful guides to understanding and using research:

Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported By Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly Guide (2003)

 is a document that provides excellent assistance to educational practitioners in evaluating whether an educational intervention is backed by rigorous evidence of effectiveness, and in implementing evidence-based interventions in their schools or classrooms.

A Policymaker’s Primer on Education Research (2004) is a joint effort of Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) and the Education Commission of the States (ECS) to help make education research more accessible to policymakers.


Research-Based Principles for Adult Basic Education Reading Instruction (2002), a report of the Reading Research Working Group, reviews and draws conclusions about practice from the research on adult reading instruction available as of 2001.

Professional wisdom grows and changes in response to the melding of continued experience and new research. Four places to look for new research in adult education and literacy are:

The What Works Clearinghouse  was established in 2002 by the Department of Education to provide educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central, independent, and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. There is currently a much greater quantity of empirical evidence available in K-12 instruction than in adult instruction. Programs for Increasing Adult Literacy is one of the topic areas for year one of the What Works Clearinghouse (see

National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL): Through rigorous, high quality research, NCSALL seeks to increase knowledge and give those teaching, managing, and setting policy in adult literacy education a sound basis for making decisions. NCSALL is also a leader in designing innovative professional development programs and in building support for research use (see Establishing an Evidence-based Adult Education System)

The quarterly publication of NCSALL, Focus on Basics, is a source of research and shared professional wisdom written for the practitioner.

NCAL's Current Research and Development Projects aim to improve understanding of youth and adult learning, foster innovation and increase effectiveness in youth and adult basic education and literacy work, and expand access to information and build capacity for literacy and basic skills service provision.

Adult Literacy Research Network using $18.5 million in grants from the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), Office of Vocational and Adult Education of the US Department of Education, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, will fund six individual research projects focused on adult literacy instruction. All six of the funded studies will employ experimental or quasi-experimental designs, one including a neuroimaging component.

Featured Research Resources in the Correctional Education Special Collection

Correctional Education as a Crime Control Program

This study, prepared for the United States Department of Education, Office of Correctional Education, compares the cost-effectiveness of two crime control methods - educating prisoners vs. expanding prisons. One million dollars spent on correctional education prevents about 600 crimes, while that same money invested in incarceration prevents 350 crimes. Correctional education is almost twice as cost-effective as a crime control policy.

OCE/CEA Three State Recidivism Study

The Correctional Education Association conducted the Three State Recidivism Study for the United States Department of Education Office of Correctional Education. The study was designed to see if education, independent of other programs, could have significant impact on the behavior of inmates after release. Data on about 3,200 inmates, who were released from Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio prisons in late 1997 and early 1998, are reported in this longitudinal study. The research design, which uses educational participation while incarcerated as the major variable, measures the impact of education while incarcerated on post release behavior, primarily recidivism and employment. The states pooled their data in a format that allows for individual state as well as aggregate reports. Within each state the correctional, parole and probation, education and work force agencies cooperated in the data collection. The analysis of the data indicates that inmates who participated in education programs while incarcerated showed lower rates of recidivism after three years. For each state the three measures of recidivism, re-arrest, re-conviction and re-incarceration were significantly lower. The employment data shows that in every year, for the three years that the study participants were followed, the wages reported to the state labor departments were higher for the education participants compared to the non-participants.

Survey of the Level of Learning Disability/ Mental Handicap Among the Prison Population

A two-year research study which says there is a notable degree of learning disability/mental handicap among the prisoner population. This is an acknowledgement of the disproportionately high number of people with intellectual disabilities who are incarcerated in Irish prisons. It suggests psychological assessments be carried out on all prisoners under the age of 21.

Reducing Prisoner Reoffending

Currently around 58 per cent of prisoners are reconvicted within two years of being released. Research indicates that factors associated with reoffending include poor reasoning and thinking skills, drugs misuse and low levels of literacy and numeracy. The Prison Service in England and Wales has made good progress in introducing programmes designed to help tackle these factors and in September 2000 established a Strategy Board to provide direction for the further development and delivery of programmes. This article discusses these efforts and future needs.

For more research-based resources, search the entire Correctional Education Special Collection