Posted on Friday, December 2, 2011
Westminster College seniors Katrina Falconer and Katie Moga and Dr. Kristenne Robison, Westminster assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice studies, presented "Uncovering the Educational Experiences of Incarcerated Women" at the American Society of Criminology meeting Nov. 16-18 in Washington, D.C.
Falconer, a sociology major, and Moga, a political science major, are teaching a sociology course with Robison at a minimum-security correctional institution for women in Crawford County. Most of the data for their project came from focus groups with women enrolled in an educational opportunity at the facility.
According to Moga, a great deal of research has been completed about incarcerated individuals, but research on imprisoned women is limited and research that includes the inmates' viewpoints is especially limited.
"Going into the prison and teaching and interacting with the women has been life-changing," Moga said. "Each week, I can see the intellectual growth and increased sense of understanding in the students and they offer a similar experience for me. They are teaching me lessons about the importance of diversity and service that I could never have learned on campus."
"We learn a lot about the effects of research on social policy in class, but now I have a first-hand understanding of how it can be applied," Moga added. "I want to enter a career in social policy reform. This experience has motivated me to strive to make changes where they are necessary because I have met the individuals who are most affected."
Falconer is a daughter of Keith and Renee Falconer of Bessemer and a graduate of Mohawk Area High School.
Moga is a daughter of Timothy and Pamela Moga of Ashtabula, Ohio, and a graduate of Edgewood High School.
The Westminster representatives attended other sessions at the conference and had the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
"Since our service and research project revolved around education, we thought a quote at the memorial was especially appropriate," Robison said. "It read ‘I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.'"
Contact Robison at (724) 946-6033 or email for additional information about the conference, presentation, and research.
The students received travel/presentation grants from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to attend the conference.
The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education. The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences. Click here for more information about the Drinko Center and its programs.