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The Effects of a Humanities Reading Program on Economically and Educationally Disadvantaged Individuals


Richard Katzev, 1551 Ala Wai Boulevard, #603, Honolulu, HI 96815. E-mail:


The effects of a 2-semester college-level humanities course were examined in a group of economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals in Portland, OR, and a group of incarcerated males at a medium-security prison in Pendleton, OR. Student responses on a pre- and post-course survey were compared. Within-group comparisons indicated that Portland students displayed significant improvement in participation in volunteer organizations, enrollment in college classes, life satisfaction, verbal ability, and analysis of the major course themes. Inmates improved on desire to participate in community organizations, vote in elections, critical thinking, life satisfaction, and applying major course themes. These results demonstrate that the power of literary classics brings about a wide range of positive changes in individuals from low-income communities and prison settings.