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Bruce Campbell, Ph.D. is a 2006 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Alan Guskin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Gene Rice, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Robert Kahn, Ph.D., External Reader

Keywords

late life learning, cognitive strategies, mental acuity, benefits of learning, lifespan learning, importance of learning

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

This study explored learning among college-degreed adults who were 60 to 98 years of age. Its purpose was three-fold. It sought to describe what participants learned, the cognitive strategies they used, and the perceived benefits they gained from learning. Study participants included 35 adults with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Twenty were men and fifteen were women. All claimed to be active learners at the outset of the study. Descriptive research methodology was used for data collection. It consisted of interviews using both phenomenological and semi-structured questions and a focus group that elaborated upon interview results. Data indicated that: 1) older, educated adults who are actively engaged in learning pursue a wide range of interests through multiple methods; 2) adult cognitive development continues indefinitely among those active learners; 3) learning is the purpose of living for some older adults; 4) college-degreed, older adults who are actively engaged in learning use age-specific learning strategies; 5) gender influences late-life learning; and 6) the benefits of late-life learning appear to antidote aging. This study has numerous implications. These include the need for additional research that analyzes the impact of education early in life on mental acuity in later life; the benefits of learning throughout the lifespan; potential gender differences among aging learners; and the reconceptualization of educated, older adults and their abilities. There are also implications for designing educational programs that accommodate the interests and skills of an aging population.

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