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Faculty Perspectives of Instructional Strategies in Criminal Justice Classrooms

Matthew J Benson, Johnson & Wales University


Since the early 20th century, higher education has been promoted as an effective strategy for enhancing law enforcement practice (Mayo, 2006a). While many have identified challenges that contemporary criminal justice practitioners face (Christopher, 2016; McFall, 2006; Stone & Travis, 2011), experts have promoted specific instructional strategies to combat these challenges (Robinson, 2000). Current research reveals a concerted effort to align programmatic objectives with the needs of today’s criminal justice students (Moriarty, 2006); yet, minimal research relates these objectives with faculty perceptions of instructional processes. The purpose of this interpretive qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of undergraduate criminal justice faculty regarding in-class pedagogical processes, guided by the following research questions: 1. In what ways do criminal justice faculty integrate curricular learning objectives with the pedagogical strategies they employ? a. How do criminal justice faculty describe their curriculum design and in-class delivery processes for instruction? b. How do criminal justice faculty perceive the value of active and experiential learning in-class instructional strategies? Undergraduate criminal justice faculty (N = 12) from 4-year higher education institutions in the southeastern New England region participated in face-to-face depth interviews. Data were analyzed using Rubin and Rubin’s (2012) seven steps for qualitative data analysis. Additionally, data originating from documents provided by faculty, along with an elite interview of a recognized pedagogical expert, triangulated the primary data source. Five themes emerged from an analysis of the data, revealing that many criminal justice faculty lack formal teaching training; however, their instructional evolution develops over time, reflecting their academic credentialing, past practical field exposure, visceral student feedback, and their own personality characteristics. Additionally, most faculty indicate that they employ active and experiential learning strategies in their classrooms even though they do not consciously acknowledge these approaches as intentional strategies. Finally, faculty shared a strong sense of commitment to teaching and to improving practice for criminal justice professionals. These findings may provide criminal justice programmatic leaders with a richer understanding as to how and why their faculty deliver curriculum in the manner they do, along with internal perspectives for areas of instructional improvement.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Teacher education|Criminology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Benson, Matthew J, "Faculty Perspectives of Instructional Strategies in Criminal Justice Classrooms" (2018). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10745757.