A Self-Study Course

by Roger Hiemstra, PhD1

Table of Contents



Course Description and Rationale

Areas of Learning

Competency Expectations

Textbook Suggestions

Suggested Self-Study Activities


Learning Activity #1 - Learning Contract Design

Learning Activity #2 – Readings

Learning Activity #3 – Developing A Personal Philosophy Statement

Learning Activity #4 – Analyze and Agency that Serves Older Adult Learners

Learning Activity #5 – Understand More About Older Adults as Learners

Term Project Alternatives


McClusky's Power-Load-Margin

Aging and Learning

Older Women's Ways of Learning

Four Case Reports 

Dear Diary: A Learning Tool for Adults






Course Description and Rationale


One of the most rapidly developing areas within education is educational gerontology, the study and practice of education for and about older adults. Peterson (1983) identified three major components of educational gerontology -- education about aging, education for the aging, and education for people who work with the aging.


In the more than three decades since Peterson wrote his award winning book, the number of elderly and retired in the United States has increased dramatically. In addition, there has been a tremendous growth in numbers of elderly participating in learning activities. Coinciding with this growth has been an increasing amount of research on older adults as learners. Just as an example, Adult Education Quarterly, Adult Learning, Educational Gerontology, the Gerontologist, the International Journal of Aging and Human Behavior, and the Journal of Gerontology are only some of the journals in the United States that regularly report on such research or related implications.


Some of this inquiry has focused on psychological and physiological problems adults face as they age, how information is processed, short and long term memory, types of intelligence, and the implications for learning or providing educational programs. Other research areas have included cognitive styles, learning to learn, learning needs and activities of older people, and life satisfaction.


In view of the above, this self-study effort's general purpose is to facilitate learners exploring some of the ways in which educators or trainers of adults can help many individuals to realize the potential of the later years. Through a variety of experiences, you will have an opportunity to develop new knowledge, skills, and attitudes relative to education and aging. Prior background in gerontology, while helpful, is not necessary since it will be possible to begin developing such a foundation throughout the learning effort.


Areas for Learning


The following topic areas suggest the range of content possible for in-depth personal study. There are many additional topics that may emerge based on your experience, need, and interests.


      The scope of educational gerontology

      Processes of aging

      Philosophy of working with the elderly

      Educational programming for the aging person

      Methods and techniques for teaching older adults

      Older adults as learners

      Types of older adult learning needs

      Developing policy for older adult learners

      Retirement/pre-retirement education

      Delivery services, approaches and programs in educational gerontology

      Professional and media interest in aging

      The theory of margin

      Future trends and predictions


Competency Expectations


          At the completion of this self-study effort, given active participation, you should be able to perform with excellence in the following ways:


1.     To understand the scope of educational gerontology.

2.     To be able to express a personal philosophy about aging and the role of education or training as it relates to the older adult.

3.     To develop a familiarity with the literature on research, theory, and practice in educational gerontology.

4.     To become aware of problems, processes, and potentials of aging, especially as they pertain to older learners.

5.     To develop skills needed for educational programming with older adults.

6.     To become familiar with various methods and techniques that facilitates older adult learning.

7.     To become familiar with the various kinds of agencies and organizations that facilitates older adult learning.

8.     To understand some of the current policy and policy needs pertaining to older adults as learners.

9.     To be able to identify trends, future needs, and corresponding programming needs pertaining to older adult learning.


Textbook Suggestions


There are three suggestions (seek them in a nearby library, bookstore, or via the Internet):


1. Peterson, D. A. (1983). Facilitating education for older learners. San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.


2. Karasik, R. J., & Kruger, T. M. (2017). A hands-on approach to teaching about aging: 32 activities for the classroom and beyond. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.


3. Ferraro, K, & George, L. (2015). Handbook of aging and the social sciences (8th Ed.). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.


In addition, various online readings can be found in the following:


4.  Hiemstra, R. (2005). Educational gerontology, gerotontology, aging-related information. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from


Suggested Self-Study Activities


1. Learning Activity #l - Learning Contract Design


          Complete a self-diagnosis of needs relevant to this self-study area, design a learning contract (or plan) for meeting many of those needs, and carry out the planned activities.

          Objective: To facilitate your ability to diagnose, articulate, and meet individual learning needs.


2. Learning Activity #2 - Readings


Complete those readings necessary to introduce you to basic information on older adult learning.  The bibliography in this document, those bibliographies in the suggested texts, the suggested online readings, and your own literature searching activity should be the primary means or sources for obtaining this knowledge base. At a mini­mum to maximize what you obtain from this self-study effort, you should include at least one of the suggested textbooks, several articles from one or more journals central to the field, and some familiarity with at least eight of the sources listed in this document’s bibliography, the suggested online readings, or general educational gerontology sources that you can locate. (The development of a personal inter­active reading log or some similar recording activity are common synthe­sizing tools).

          Objective: To facilitate your acquisition of a broad-based comprehension of related literature and knowledge pertaining to older adults as learners.


3. Learning Activity #3 - Develop a Personal Philosophy Statement


Develop a personal statement of educational philosophy and professional style relative to working with older adults as learners. This could involve participating in some study efforts related to educational philosophies described later in this guide and then developing a statement that makes sense given requirements or constraints within your place of work, your own personality, and the ways you have developed for working with older adult learners. The product could be a 2-3 page paper in which you discuss your findings and conclusions in relation to the course readings and subsequent discussions. This could be then shared with friends, colleagues, etc. and you ask them for feedback as a way of reinforcing your learnings.  

          Objective: To facilitate your study of different philosophies related to working with older learners so that a personal statement of educational philosophy can be developed and described to others.


4. Learning Activity #4 - Analyze An Agency that Serves Older Adult Learners


Conduct a site visit and some agency, organization, or group in your local community that serves older adults. Interview one or more staff members, talk with older participants if possible, and review any available documentation. (Alternatively, if it is impossible to actually visit an agency then it is feasible to obtain appropriate information through correspondence, phone calls, search various data bases, etc.) . The product could be a 3-5 page paper in which you describe the agency and what you have learned regarding its adult education activities. This could be then shared with friends, colleagues, etc. and you ask them for feedback as a way of reinforcing your learnings. You also could attach it as an email to Roger Hiemstra for his feedback.

          Objective: To facilitate your initial understanding of at least one agency associated with or delivering programs to older adult learners.


5. Learning Activity #5 - Understand More About Older Adults As Learners


Interview two or more older people to gain further insights into the learning process as experienced by older adults. These interviews can be with elderly relatives, friends, or acquaintances (or people picked at random if you so desire). The setting can be in a home, institution, or other appropriate place. Determine what you can about what they learn, how they learn, why they learn, etc. The product could be a 3-5 page paper in which you discuss your findings and conclusions in relation to the course readings and subsequent discussions. This could be then shared with friends, colleagues, etc. and you ask them for feedback as a way of reinforcing your learnings.

          Objective: To facilitate your understanding of older adults as learners.


6.  Major Learning Project (choose one of the following - the result typically will be a 5-25 page paper or product)


a. Complete an extensive paper on some topic related to the course content such as an elaboration, discussion, and/or analysis of some aspect of older adult learning.  

b. Acquaint yourself with the literature related to educational gerontology and older adult learning by carrying out some reading activity that goes beyond that described in #2 above. This would include reading of a fairly broad, overview nature and would result in an interactive reading log, diary, journal, theory log, etc.

c. Plan and, if possible, conduct a research study related to older adult learning, motivation, and/or development -- or -- write a journal article related in some way to older adult learning, motivation, development, etc.

d. Plan (and implement, if possible) an educational program for older adult learners or design a training module related in to some aspect of aging and older adult learning.

e. Write your own personal life history or assist an older person in writing a personal life history including reflections on the corresponding learning processes that were involved.

f. Negotiate some activity of your own choosing as a means of acquiring some in-depth about the foundations of gerontology in education.

[Suggestions on the nature of a final product are described later in this document.]

          Objectives: (1)     To facilitate your carrying out in-depth study, acquisition, and comprehension of knowledge related to some course content area.

                             (2)     To enhance your analytical skills in comparing, contrasting, and critically reflecting on various sources of information.






I.  Preparation


          A.   Read through the material on learning contracts contained and/or referenced in this workbook (see Supplement A).


          B.   Determine personal learning needs (see Supplement B) as a means of determining where to concentrate some of your study efforts. Identify appropriate learning objectives, strategies, and resources, and design corresponding validation procedures.


          C.   Review examples of contract forms and completed contracts (as displayed in Supplements C-F) and/or talk with colleagues experienced in contracting to obtain an understanding of their value, nature, and form.


II. Presentation


          A.   Prepare a first version of your contract as a personal guide to learning and share it with one or more friends and/or work colleagues to obtain their feedback.


          B.   After receiving feedback revise, if needed, and utilize this final document as a guide for your learning efforts.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   That you are able to diagnose, articulate, and meet individual learning needs.


          B.   That you obtain experience in utilizing learning contracts to guide your individualized, self-directed learning.


IV. Miscellaneous


          A.   Learning contracts may take on any form that makes personal sense and that describes individual learning plans.


          B.   Learning contracts are only initial guides and may be redesigned from time to time if your interests and/or goals change.






          The use of learning contracts with adult learners has gained cogency during the past three decades. Research on self-directed learning has resulted in the search for appropriate learning resources and guides and a need by many teachers of adults to provide some mechanism for learners to build on past experience and determine needs as they carry out learning activities. Finally, the emergence of non-traditional and online learning programs has mandated that some vehicle be available for learners to mix experience with actual learning endeavors. Thus, in response to these many needs the learning contract method is increasing in its use for adult learning.

          An extended description of how to complete and utilize a learning contract is shown below. A blank form is provided for you to use if the described format is acceptable. In reality a learning con­tract can take on many shapes and forms ranging from audiotapes, to outlines, to descriptive statements, to elaborate explanations of process and product. The intent of utilizing learning contracts is to provide a vehicle whereby you can personalize the learning experience. Therefore, feel free to utilize whatever shape or form you develop or with which you feel comfortable. For supplemental reading on contracts, the following is recommended:




          In developing your learning contract, it may be useful if you have a sense of your own learning and cognitive styles. As you begin to think about your learning contract, you may not yet have a thorough understanding of your own learning style. Thus, the following figure is provided as an initial tool to facilitate the learner who has never filled out a learning contract in obtaining some sense of what might be the best approach for this course.


Your Learning Style Preference


Cognitive Style

Self-Directed Learner

Other-Directed Learner

Learner Dependent

I. Standard Contract with suggested structure used as basic guide

II. Standard contract using suggestions from another person

Learner Independent

III. Create own contract in terms of content and procedure

IV. Develop own version of contract using suggestions from another person


Note that the range of possibilities is quite extensive.




Why Use Learning Contracts?


          One of the most significant findings from research about adult learning is the following: When adults go about learning something naturally (as contrasted with being taught something), they are highly self-directing. Evidence has accumulated, too, that what adults learn on their own initiative they learn more deeply and permanently than what they learn by being taught (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991 – see

          Those kinds of learning that are engaged in for purely personal development can perhaps be planned and carried out completely by an individual on personal terms and with only a loose structure. But those kinds of learning that have as their purpose improving one's competence to perform on a job or in a profession must take into account the need and expectations of organizations, profes­sions, and society. Learning contracts provide a means for nego­tiating reconciliation between these external needs and expectations and the learner's internal need and interests.

          Furthermore, in traditional education the learning activity is structured by the teacher and the institution. The learner is told what objective to work toward, what resources are to be used and how (and when) to use them, and how any accomplishment of the objectives will be evaluated. This imposed structure conflicts with the adult's deep psychological need to be self-directing and may induce resistance, apathy, or withdrawal. Learning contracts provide a vehicle for making the planning of learning experiences a mutual undertaking between a learner and any helper, mentor, or teacher. By participating in the process of diagnosing personal needs, deriving objectives, identifying resources, choosing strategies, and evaluating accomplishments the learner develops a sense of ownership of (and commitment to) the plan. Learning contracts also are a means for making the learning objectives of any field or practical experience clear and explicit for both learners and facilitators.


How do you develop a learning contract?


          Step 1: Diagnose your learning needs. A learning need is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in regard to a particular set of competencies. You may already be aware of certain learning needs as a result of a personal appraisal or the long accumulation of evidence for yourself regarding any gaps between where you are now and where you would like to be.

          If not (or even so), it might be worth your while to go through this process: First, construct a model of the competencies required to perform excellently the role (e.g., parent, teacher, civic leader, manager, consumer, professional worker, etc.) about which you are concerned. There may be a competency model already in exist­ence that you can use as a thought-starter and checklist; many professions are developing such models. If not, you can build your own, with help from friends, colleagues, supervisors, and expert resource people.

          A competency can be thought of as the ability to do something at some level of proficiency and is usually composed of some combination of knowledge, understanding, skill, attitude, and values. For example, "ability to ride a bicycle from my home to work to get in better physical shape" is a competency that involves some knowledge of how a bicycle operates and the route to work; an under­standing of some of the dangers inherent in riding a bicycle; skill in mounting, pedaling, steering, and stopping a bicycle; an attitude or desire to ride a bicycle; and a valuing of the exercise it will yield. Ability to ride a bicycle in cross-country racing would be a higher-level competency that would require greater knowledge, understanding, skill, etc. It is useful to produce a competency model even if it is crude and subjective because of the clearer sense of direction it provides.

          Having constructed a competency model, your next task is to assess the gap between where you are now and where the model says you should be in regard to each competency. You can do this alone or with the help of people who have been observing your performance. The chances are you will find that you have already developed certain competencies to a level of excellence so that you can concen­trate on those you haven't mastered. An example of a competency model is contained in Appendix A.


          Step 2: Specify your learning objectives. You’re now ready to begin with the first learning contract (objectives) column. Each of the learning needs diagnosed in Step 1 should be translated into a learning objective. Be sure your objectives describe what you will learn, not what you will do. State them in terms that are most meaningful to you--content acquisition, terminal behaviors, or direction of growth.


          Step 3: Specify learning resources and strategies. When you have finished listing your objectives, move over to the second column of the contract (resources and strategies) and describe how you propose to go about accomplishing each objective. Identify the resources (material and human) you plan to use in your various learning experiences and the strategies (techniques, tools) you will employ in making use of them. Here is an example:


Learning Objective

Learning Resources and Strategies

Improve my ability to organize my work efficiently so that I can accomplish 20 percent more work in a day.

1. Find books and articles in the library on how to organize your work and manage time and read them.


2. Interview three executives on how they organize their work, then observe them for one day each, noting their techniques.


3. Select the best techniques from each, plan a day's work, and have a colleague observe me for a day, giving me feedback on my efficiency.

Step 4: Specify target dates for completion. After completing the second column, move over to the third column (target completion date). Put realistic dates, unless there are institutionally or other required deadlines.

Step 5: Specify evidence of accomplishment. Move to the fourth column (evidence) and describe what evidence you will collect to indicate the degree to which you have achieved each objective. Perhaps the following examples of evidence for different types of objectives will stimulate your thinking about what evidence you might accumulate:

Type of Objective

Examples of Evidence


Reports of knowledge acquired, as in essays, examinations, oral presentations, audio-visual presentations; annotated bibliographies.


Examples of utilization of knowledge in solving problems, as in action projects, research projects with conclusions and recommendation, plans for curriculum change, etc.


Performance exercises, videotaped performance, etc., with ratings by observers.


Attitudinal rating scales; performance in real situations, role playing, simulation games, critical incident cases, etc., with feedback from participants and/or observers.


Value rating scales; performance in value clarification group, critical incident cases, simulation exercises, etc., with feedback from participants and/or observers.


          Step 6: Specify how the evidence will be validated. After you have specified what evidence you will gather for each objective in column four, move to column five (verification). For each objective, first specify the criteria by which you propose the evidence will be judged. The criteria will vary according to the type of objective. For example, appropriate criteria for knowledge objectives might include comprehensiveness, depth, precision, clarity, authentica­tion, usefulness, scholarliness, etc. For skill objectives more appropriate criteria may be flexibility, precision, poise, speed, gracefulness, imaginativeness, etc.

          After you have specified the criteria, indicate the means you propose for verifying the evidence according to these criteria. For example, if you produce a paper, who will you have read it and what are their qualifications?  Will they express their judgments by rating scales, descriptive reports, or evaluative memos?  How will they communicate those judgments to you?  Perhaps they can use a memo or some other written statement. If you attempt to improve a professional skill, is there someone at work who can judge your accomplishments? An action helping to differentiate "distinguished" from "adequate" performance in ethics is the wisdom with which personal validators operate.


          Step 7: Review your contract with consultants. After you have completed the first draft of your contract, you will find it useful to review it with two or three friends, your super­visors, or other expert resource people to obtain their reaction and suggestions. Here are some questions you might have them ask about the contract to receive optimal benefit from their help:

·        Are the learning objectives clear/understandable/realistic and describe what you propose to learn?

·        Can they think of other objectives you might consider?

·        Do the learning strategies and resources seem reasonable, appropriate, and efficient?

·        Can they think of other resources and strategies you might consider?

·        Does the evidence seem relevant to the various objectives and would it convince others?

·        Can they suggest other evidence you might consider?

·        Are the criteria and means for validating the evidence clear, relevant, and convincing?

·        Can they think of other ways to validate the evidence that you might consider?


          Revise the contract as needed based on any feedback you received.


          Step 8: Carry out the contract. You now simply do what the contract calls for. But keep in mind that as you work on it you may find that your notions about what you want to learn and how you want to learn changing. So don't hesitate to revise your contract as you go along.


          Step 9: Evaluation of your learning. When you have completed your contract you will want some assurance that you have in fact learned what you set out to learn. Perhaps the simplest way is to ask the consultants you used in Step 7 to examine your evidence and validation data and provide you their judgment about adequacy. You also can use self-evaluation, talk with one or more friends, and/or people with whom you work and seek their input on your accomplishments.






          One of the most valuable techniques for discovering (and constantly rediscovering) learning needs is the competency model.  To build a competency model, it is necessary to decide first of all what the competency components are for successful or outstanding performance in a particular field or activity. When this is done, the next step is to determine your own present level of competence with regard to each of the competency components. Once this has been accom­plished, the gaps between your present level of attainment and the required level become apparent. While this seems to be simple--and it is--there can be quite an impact when we clearly identify our own learning needs for the first time.  The awareness of the gap between "what I can do" and "what I want to be able to do" produces a strong motivational pull to close the gap with all deliberate speed.

          An example of this process can be demonstrated in looking at potential competency requirements for a position such as that of a purchasing manager in an industrial corporation. The required competencies might be the following:


    Competence Factors*


    1.   Knowledge of the source of products, materials, or services required for successful corporate operation.

    2.   Knowledge of purchasing techniques and methods.

    3.   Familiarity with pricing structures, discounts, allowances, and quantity price breaks.

    4.   Awareness of delivery schedules, alternate shipping techniques, and transportation routes and methods.

    5.   Competence in lease/buy decision making and the negotiation of specific performance and delivery contract.


    Supervisory and Managerial Skills


    Utilizing competency models in organizations can produce the following effects:


    1.   Self-diagnosis of training and development need.

    2.   Self-directed planning of personal growth progress leading to greater internal commitment.

    3.   Increased feelings of psychological success rather than psychological failure.

    4.   Clarification of supervisor and subordinate perceptions of attainment and competence.

    5.   Improved bonus and compensation planning.

    6.   An orientation toward a continuing cycle of growth and development with a focus on forward progress rather than judgment.


      *You will need to develop appropriate competency models for your interest areas. For example, you might desire to become a successful trainer or teacher of adults in some specialty area.





    Foundations of Gerontology and Aging


    Name  ____________________________________________  Date  ________________________



          The diagnostic form is designed to assist you in assessing your level of competence and need related to possible content areas for personal study and for assisting in the construction of a learning contract.  The information will help you identify and develop many of the professional competencies required to be an effective teacher or trainer of adults.  

          For each potential content area, check the most relevant column indicating a "self-rating." This information should guide your personal emphasis on learning activities and the development of a relevant learning contract.

          To assist in the decision regarding which column to check for each area, use the information below.  Make your best estimation of current strengths and weaknesses.  In addition, add other content areas you believe will be of value in your study efforts.


          DK   If you are uncertain regarding the relation between the listed area and your current level of need or competence and you would like or need to explore this relation further through discussion, reading, independent study, etc.


          LO   If your current competence related to the listed area is especially low, but could be raised toward a desired level through specific learning experiences.


          MD   If your past experiences have provided part of the desired competence and some learning experiences would develop the remainder.


          HI   If your past experiences have substantially developed the listed area.


          After you have completed your self-ratings, go back and numerically rank each "LO" that you checked according to the level of importance you would attach to it. Think of this in terms of the amount of time that you should allot to this topic. This might help you in thinking about areas of concentration for your term project or to give some focus to the areas on which you wish to obtain in-depth knowledge.


Self-rate yourself on each content area by checking one of the relevant columns at the right of the table


Potential Content Areas





1. The scope of educational gerontology and aging





2. Processes of aging





3. Educational programming with and for the older learner





4. Older adults as learners





5. The theory of margin (load/power concepts)





6. Types of older adult learning needs





7. Professional and media interest in aging





8. Developing policy for older adult learners





9. Retirement/preretirement education





10. Future trends/projections and aging





11. Methods and techniques for teaching older adults





12. Delivery services, approaches, and programs in educational gerontology





13. Technology and the older adult





14. Other





15. Other





16. Other





17. Other





18. Other







 Learning Contract Form


Learner:                                                                                          Content Area:                                                                              ­                                                                       


What are you going to learn (objectives)

How are you going to learn it (resources/strategies)

Target date for completion

How are you going to know that you learned it (evidence)

How are you going to prove you learned (verification)

































Simulation One


Learner:   John Doe              Course:   Foundations of Gerontology and Aging  ­_


What are you going to learn (objectives)

How are you going to learn it (resources/strategies)

Target date for completion

How are you going to know that you learned it (evidence)

How are you going to prove you learned (verification)

Improve my ability to participate in a learning experience

Actively participate as a learner

At the end of 4 months

Self-perceptions about my participation as a learner

Seek feedback from colleagues






Improve my general under-standing of older adults as learners and the educational gerontology field

1. Actively participate in studying the field’s theory and literature

2. Complete a learning contract

1. First draft by the end of two weeks

2. At the end of 4 months

1. Keep a log of my learnings

2. A learning contract that I am pleased with

1. Ask my work colleagues for feedback

2. All contract tasks completed






Acquire much more information about education gerontology literature                                         

1. Read at least one of the suggested texts, the

workbook, other resources I find, at least 10 journal articles related to educating adults

2. Develop a personal reading log summarizing what I learn

At the end of 4 months

Complete an interactive reading log (see the term project write-up)

Ask some colleagues for feedback


Develop new understanding of my own philosophy for working with older adults as learners  







Improve my understanding of an agency that works with older adult learners (the local geriatric center)





1. Participate in the study of philosophy and read suggested material

2. Complete the Zinn instrument on philosophy

3. Talk with colleagues about my philosophy




1. Complete at least two interviews of agency administrators

2. Observe residents and obtain written materials


1. During the first two weeks

2. At the end of 4 months

3. Throughout my learning experiences




1. During their first month of my study efforts

2. At the end of 4 months








Write a statement of personal philosophy that represents both my own and my professional involvement with older adult learners


Write a paper that summarizes my personal findings and describes some of the implications for work with older people




Ask several colleagues at work for some feedback


Ask my supervisor for some feedback






Ask several colleagues at work and someone from the agency for some feedback on my efforts




Simulation One - Page Two


Learner:   Jane Smith              Course:   Foundations of Gerontology and Aging                         ­_


What are you going to learn (objectives)

How are you going to learn it (resources/strategies)

Target date for completion

How are you going to know that you learned it (evidence)

How are you going to prove you learned (verification)

Improve my understanding of how, why, and what adults learn  

1.Interview 4 older adults using the Allen Tough protocol

2. Analyze and compare the learning involvement among 4 adults in a 5 page paper

1. Through-out the first half of my learning experience

2. At the end of 4 months

Create some tables that portray my findings, write a corresponding report, and share it with some colleagues

Ask my work colleagues for feedback on my understanding and proposed implications






Enhance my understanding of older adults as learners, the educational gerontology field, and my potential role in the field (term project)

1. In addition to what is noted in the third section of the previous page, read at least two more books listed in the workbook bibliography or the equivalent to that in journal articles, monographs, and Web sources I find      

2. Annotate ideas, reflections, and new learnings in a reading log





At the end of 4 months

Extensive reading log (15-20 pages or more) where I will both summarize and interact with my readings

Ask my work colleagues for feedback






















Simulation Two


Learner:   Jane Smith              Course:   Foundations of Gerontology and Aging                        ­_


What are you going to learn (objectives)

How are you going to learn it (resources/strategies)

Target date for completion

How are you going to know that you learned it (evidence)

How are you going to prove you learned (verification)

The objectives suggested in the workbook for Learning Activities 1-6

Engage in the various learning activities

3 - I will begin developing a personal portfolio in lieu of a philosophy statement

4 – I will analyze my local senior center

5 – I will do group interviews of participants at the local Oasis Center to find out about their learning efforts


At the end of a 4 month study effort

Complete the products suggested in the workbook for each activity

Seek at least two family members or work colleagues to provide me with feedback


Term project:


Increase my understanding of the education and training of those who work with older adult learners





1. Read at least the material suggested in the workbook for gaining some expertise in this area of study

2. Take notes on what I learn





At the end of a 4 month study effort




Develop a written report that summarizes what I have learned




I will carry out self-assessment and also ask some colleagues for feedback





























Foundations of Gerontology in Education  Edwina Thomas

First Draft of Learning Contract


L.A. #1 - Self-diagnosis and Learning Contract - I will complete the self-assessment form provided in the workbook and draft a learning contract that describes my proposed learning activities.  I will have several discussions with colleagues during this process and do a second draft if appropriate.


L.A. #2 - Readings. I plan to read at least two of the suggested texts. I also will read other materials on the Web, in journal articles, etc. I will keep a log of my various activities that I eventually include in a portfolio.


L.A. #3 - Using the guidelines provided in the workbook, I will begin the process of developing a professional statement of philosophy for my work in the health field with older patients. I will provide a 2-3 page paper that summarizes my philosophy but know that this will need to be an ongoing process. I will ask some work colleagues to provide me with formal feedback.


L.A. #4 – Using the guidelines in the workbook, I will analyze my own agency by interviewing senior administrators, patients, and relatives of patients to develop a true understanding of how we do in working with older people. I will attempt to determine if there are related learning implications. I will put all that I learn into a report that I can share with colleagues.


L.A. #5 - As I am very interested in history, I will substitute a learning experience that enables me to better understand how history has dealt with the older adult and what are the potential implications for our medical facility. I will develop the final product and publish it in our unit’s newsletter and on the facility’s web page.


Term Project - I will design a training program for all my colleagues at the divisional level that takes what I learn and demonstrates how we can do a better job of working with older adults and their relatives. I will carry out this training program if my supervisor feels it will be a worthwhile activity. At the very least, I will ask my work colleagues for feedback on my learning and development efforts.





I.   Preparation


          A.   Utilize as resource bases the bibliography in this resource, the bibliographic citations in the suggested texts, the texts themselves, your own literature searching activities, and the Internet based on personal interests or needs.


          B.   Complete those readings necessary to introduce you to the topics of educational gerontology and older adults as learners.  At a mini­mum, this reading effort should include at least one of the suggested textbooks, several articles from one or more journals central to the field, and some familiarity with at least eight sources listed in this resource’s bibliography, or general educational gerontology sources that you can locate.


II.  Presentation


          A.   Develop an inter­active reading log, theory log, personalized journal, diary, or some similar recording device as a synthe­sizing tool for your efforts (these tools are described later).


          B.   Share the materials you create with a colleague and ask them for their feedback on what you accomplished.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   That you will acquire a broad-based comprehension of related literature.


          B.   That you will become familiar with the different sources of information to older adults as learners.


IV.  Miscellaneous


          A.   The final product can take any form that makes sense to you. You can even combine some of those recommended presentation forms show in IIA or develop some technique on your own for portraying what you have learned.


          B.   Discussing what you find with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.



I.       Preparation


          A.   Read the material pertaining to philosophy and personal style in this workbook (Supplement G) and/or any other related materials that you can locate. In addition, examine the power point lecture shown at http:/ to obtain a working knowledge of various philosophical models. Finally, complete the Zinn Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (Supplement H) to obtain knowledge of your own philosophical preferences.


          B.   Think about what you read or observed in terms of the following questions:


                    1.   What was the message for you?

                    2.   How might the information be of use to you as an educator or trainer of adults?

                    3.   With what parts do you agree and with what parts do you disagree?

                    4.   How can your own personal teaching or training style be determined?


II.      Presentation


          A.   Prepare a brief report (500-1000 words, including information on how you went about developing the statement and the statement, itself) of one of the following: (a) your own philosophy and style related to work with adults as learners; (b) a personal code of ethics; or (c) a professional commitment statement.


          B.   Ask one or more colleagues to read your report and provide you with feedback.


III.     Educational Goals


          A.   That you will gain an awareness of various philosophies and their potential for guiding your current or future professional work with older adults


          B.   That you will gain more understanding of your own philosophy and teaching, training, or managing style as they relate to your work with older adults..


          C.   That you will be able to develop a personal statement and describe it to others.


IV.     Miscellaneous


          A.   The final product actually should take any form that makes sense to you.


          B.   Discussing what you develop with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.



Translating Personal Values and Philosophy into Practical Action


          Following is a description of three items that may be of value as you create your own philosophy for working with adults as learners. Some sources you also can study to help in this process are Brockett and Hiemstra (2004), Elias and Merriam (1980), Hiemstra (1988)1, and Hiemstra and Brockett (1994)2.

          The first item is a portrayal of several philosophical orientations or models (Figure 1) that will be helpful in understanding how you compare to others. The second is a worksheet (Figure 2) you might consider using as you create your own statement of philosophy. The third item (Figure 3) portrays a philosophical statement that you can use as a model or against which you can compare your own views, values, and beliefs. Each of these figures is found at the tail end of

          You may want to examine Brockett's (1988) excellent book on ethical issues. He believes that ethical and philosophical behavior are predicated somewhat on the personal, professional style that you develop and that differentiates you from another professional. For example, culturally you will have certain beliefs and will have had unique experiences. Such beliefs and experiences impact on your philosophy and ethical behaviors in very unique ways. You might attempt to think through how your philosophy affects your personal style as a professional as you develop your philosophy statement.



1This resource is available on-line at the following url: It is a chapter on how to develop a personal statement of philosophy.

2This resource is available on-line at the following url:









Lorraine M. Zinn, Ph.D.


August, 1983

[Original edition]



The Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory© is an assessment “tool” developed to assist the adult educator to identify a personal philosophy of adult education and to compare it with prevailing philosophies in the field of adult education. The PAEI was designed to be self-administered, self-scored, and self-interpreted. The necessary scoring and interpretation information is shown at the end of this supplement.


The validity and reliability test data are summarized in Dissertation Abstracts International, 44, 1667A-1668A (Zinn, 1983). Additional information can be found in Zinn, L. M. (1990). Identifying your philosophical orientation. In M. W. Galbraith (Ed.), Adult learning methods (pp. 39-78). Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company. It is reprinted here by permission and it is for use in a self-study setting only.


Copyright 1983 by Lorraine M. Zinn. All rights reserved. This material is not to be copied, disseminated, or reused without written permission of the author, Lorraine M. Zinn, except for a one-time use in a graduate course.


To complete the instrument go to the following web site and print out a hard copy of the instrument: Complete the form and note that the scoring instructions and a form for tallying your score are shown at the end of that web page. The instructions shown below may present a clear description for scoring the instrument and interpreting the results.


Instructions for Scoring the Inventory


Now that you have completed the inventory, look back at your responses and notice the small letter in parentheses at the far right side of each rating scale. This is a code letter for scoring the inventory. For example, you will find that for each set of responses for inventory numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 there is one of the rating scales with (f) as a code (they are not in the same order each time—the copy of the original instrument is somewhat blurred in places, so occasionally the f looks like an l). These are code letters for scoring the inventory.

          First, transfer each of your numbers on the rating scale to the sheet entitled “scoring matrix.” For item #1, if you circled 5 for option (h), write the number 5 in the box for 1-h (row 1 column h). Item #1 has five different responses: a, c, d, f, and h. Record all five of your responses for item #1, then go to #2 and continue through #15. When you finish, there will be numbers in every other square in the matrix (like a checkerboard).

          Now, add all the numbers by columns, from top to bottom, so you have ten separate sub-totals. None of these sub-totals should be higher than 56; nor should any be lower than 8. For your FINAL SCORE, add the sub-totals from the columns as shown in the box below:


Final Score


                    a ____        + v ____     = L ____     Liberal Adult Education

                    c ____         + w____     = B ____    Behaviorist Adult Education

                    d ____        + x ____     = P ____     Progressive Adult Education

                    f  ____        + y ____     = H____     Humanistic Adult Education

                    h ____        + z ____     = R____     Radical Adult Education


Each of your scores reflects a particular Philosophy of Adult Education, as follows:


          Liberal (Arts) Adult Education1 (Education for Intellectual Development

          Behaviorist (Education for Behavioral Change)

          Progressive (Education for Practical Problem-Solving)

          Humanistic (Education for Self-Actualization)

          Radical (Education for Major Social Change) 2


Your highest score reflects the philosophy which is closest to your own beliefs, your lowest score reflects a philosophy that is least like yours. There is no “wrong” or “right” philosophy. See the table below entitled, “Five Philosophies of Adult Education,” to read more about each of these philosophies. Note that a score of 95-105 indicates a strong agreement with a given philosophy; a score of 15-25 indicates a strong disagreement with a given philosophy. If your score is between 55 and 65, it probably means that you neither agree or disagree strongly with a particular philosophy.

          Most educators have a clear primary philosophical orientation, or share two that are stronger than others. Typical combinations are Liberal and Behaviorist, Progressive and Humanistic Progressive and Radical, or Humanistic and Radical. On the other hand, it is quite unlikely that you would have high scores in both Liberal and Radical or Behaviorist and Humanistic philosophies. These philosophies have key underlying assumptions that are inherently contradictory. For example, the primary purpose of Behaviorist Education is to ensure compliance with expectations or standards set by others, whereas Humanistic Education is intended to enhance individual self-development, which may or may not meet anyone else’s expectations or standards.


1Note: Liberal Adult Education does not necessarily reflect “liberal” political viewpoints; the label is derived from the “liberal arts” approach to education.

2Descriptions adapted from J. Elias and S. Merriam (1980), Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education, Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.


Table 1. Five Philosophies of Adult Education (Developed by L. M. Zinn and Elias and Merriam, 1980).

Your Final Score

L =

B =

P =

H =

R =


Liberal Adult Education (Classical, Traditional)

Behaviorist Adult Education

Progressive Adult Education

Humanistic Adult Education

Radical Adult Education (Reconstructionist)


To develop intellectual powers of the mind; to make a person literate in the broadest sense—intellectually, morally, spiritually, aesthetically

To bring about behavior that will ensure survival of the human species, societies, and individuals; To promote behavioral change

To transmit cultural and society structure; to promote social change; to give earners practical knowledge and problem-solving skills

To enhance personal growth and development; to facilitate self-actualization

To bring about through education fundamental social, political, and economic changes in society


“Renaissance person;” cultured; always a learner; seeks knowledge rather than just information; conceptual and theoretical understanding

Learner takes an active role in learning, practicing new behavior and receiving feedback: strong environmental influence

Learner needs, interests, and experiences are key elements in learning; people have unlimited potential to be developed through education

Learner is highly motivated and self-directed; assumes responsibility for own learning

Equality with teacher in learning process; personal autonomy; people create history and culture by combining reflection with action


The “expert,” transmitter of knowledge; authoritative; clearly directs learning process

Manager; controller; predicts and directs learning outcomes

Organizer; guides learning through experiences that are educative; stimulates, instigates, and evaluates learning process

Facilitator; helper; partner; promotes but does not direct learning

Coordinator; suggests but does not determine direction for learning; equality between teacher and learner

Concepts/Key Words:

Liberal learning for its own sake; rational, intellectual education; general education; traditional knowledge; classical humanism

Stimulus-response; behavior modification; competency-based; mastery learning; behavioral objectives, trial and error,; skill training; feedback; reinforcement

Problem-solving; experience-based education; democracy; lifelong learning; pragmatic knowledge; needs assessment; social responsibility

Experiential learning; freedom; individuality; self-directedness; interactive; openness; authenticity; ambiguity; feelings

Consciousness-raising; praxis; noncompulsory learning; autonomy; social action; deinstitutionalization; literacy training


Lecture; didactic; study groups; contemplation; critical reading and discussion

Programmed instruction; contract learning; teaching machines; computer-assisted instruction; practice and reinforcement

Problem-solving; scientific method; activity method; experimental method; project method; inductive method

Experiential; group tasks; group discussion; team teaching; self-directed learning; individualized learning; discovery method

Dialogue; problem-posing; maximum interaction; discussion groups


Socrates, Aristotle, Adler, Kallen, Van Doren, Houle; Great Books; Lyceum; Chautauqua; Elderhostel; Center for the Study of Liberal Education

Skinner, Thorndike, Watson, Tyler; APL (Adult Performance Level); competency based teacher education; behavioral modification programs

Spencer, Dewey, Bergevin, Sheats, Lindeman, Benne, Blakely; ABE; ESL; citizenship education; community schools; cooperative extension; schools without walls

Rogers, Maslow, Knowles, May, Tough, McKenzie; encounter groups; group dynamics; self-directed learning projects; human relations training; Esalen Institute

Brameld, Holt, Kozol, Freire, Goodman, Illich, Ohliger; Freedom Schools; Friere’s literacy training; free schools





I.   Preparation


          A.   Select at least one agency, organizations, or group in your community that serves older adults, preferably in some educational manner (see Supplement I for ideas on places to visit in any location).


          B.   Learn about the agency's (or each agency's) operation and activities with reference to such factors as clientele served, nature of the adult education programs, status of the staff, philosophical rationale adhered to, constraints under which the agency operates, etc. Interview one or more staff members, talk with older participants if possible, and review any available documentation.


          C.   The agency should be one that you can visit and carry out an on-site study (see Supplements J, K, L, and M for ideas on what you might do or look for during a site visit). Alternatively, if it is impossible to actually visit an agency then it is feasible to obtain appropriate information through correspondence, phone calls, various electronic data bases, library research, etc.


II.  Presentation


          A.   Summarize your findings in a manner that makes sense to you.


          B.   Derive a statement of personal reflection and assessment based on the findings.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   That you will gain experience in analyzing an educational agency that works with older adults, its purposes, its programs, and its personnel.


          B.   That you will become more familiar with an agency associated with programs for older adult learners.


IV.  Miscellaneous


          A.   Consider selecting an agency with which you are not familiar and/or interested as it will make it more meaningful.


          B.   Discussing what you develop with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.





Health Related

     Home Aides

     Visiting Nurses Association

     Caring Coalition

     Holistic Medicine Association

     YMCA (health & recreation)


     Red Cross (CPR, etc.)

     Hospitals Continuing Education Activities

     County Health Department


Basic Adult Education

     ABE Center

     G.E.D. – Vocational/Technical Centers

     Literacy Volunteers of America

     Pro Literacy

     The Learning Place or Learning Place East


Employment Needs

     Career Centers

     State Employment Office

     Rehabilitation (Ability Associates)

     Any College's Career Counseling Program

     Jobs Training Centers


Professional Organizations and Associations

     Business & Professional Women

     A.I.A. Occupational Therapists

     American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

     Local Adult and Continuing Education organizations


Senior Citizen Needs

     Golden Age Club

     Retired Seniors Volunteer Program

     Senior Centers

     Gerontology Centers

     Adopt A Grandparent Program


     AARP Programs

     Oasis Centers


Coping Skills

     Cooperative Extension

     Planned Parenthood

     Rape Crisis centers

     Computer Literacy programs

     Elder Abuse Projects

     Displaced Homemakers programs

     Alzheimer's Organization


Continuing Education

     County Libraries

     County public and private schools (not all will have continuing education program)

     Continuing Education Division of a local Community College

     Any College's Continuing Education Programs



     Parent-Teacher Associations


     Various Neighborhood Centers

     County Aging Organization

     Conventions Centers

     Alcoholics Anonymous

     Catholic Charities

     Cooperative Extension

     Various out of town colleges with extension programs

     Continuing Medical Education for Doctors

     Planned Parenthood

     Churches/Religious Organizations

     Rescue Mission/Goodwill





          One way to approach this learning activity would be to interview a staff member and take a tour of the facility.  If possible, you may even be able to observe education in progress.  Two questions should guide your inquiry:  (a) What is distinctive about this agency? (b) How does this agency work?


1.  In interviewing a staff member (an administrator or key teacher), you should attempt to identify the following:


          ×    the agency's mission and goals (why the program exists and what it hopes to accomplish)

          ×    the educational content (what is actually taught or what kind of programs are offered)

          ×    the educational structure (scheduling, mandatory versus voluntary attendance, etc.)

          ×    staffing (size, credentials, assignments)

          ×    budget (amount, source, stability from year to year)

          ×    relationship to the larger institution (if applicable)


[Some of this information will be available in literature about the agency as well.]


2.  Touring the agency will give you a chance to see the facilities provided and to get a feel for the atmosphere of the agency.


3.  If you can observe a class in session, you might talk to two or three adult learners to discover why they are attending (what they hope to accomplish) and their opinions about the program (degree of satisfaction, strengths, and weaknesses).




[Adapted from Hiemstra and Sisco (1990) and Hiemstra (1991)]

Following is a checklist for analyzing aspects of a learning environment; see if whether or not these concerns seem to exist.  


       SENSORY CONCERNS                     SEATING CONCERNS                    SOCIAL/CULTURAL CONCERNS

___ Adequate lighting                ___ Adjustable seats or              ___ Overt or subtle gender

___ Absence of glare                       alternative choices                  discrimination existing

___ Lighting adequate for A/V        ___ Adequate cushioning if           ___ Overt or subtle age

      devices                              used for long periods                discrimination existing

___ Attractive/appropriate colors    ___ Can person's legs be             ___ Overt or subtle racial

      and decorations                      crossed comfortably                  discrimination existing

___ Adequate acoustics               ___ Straight back and flat           ___ Facilitators trained for age,

___ Adequate sound amplification           pan for people with                  race, and gender sensitivity

___ Any noise to be reduced or             back problems                  ___ Sociopetal discussion/seating

      eliminated                     ___ Adequate sturdiness/size               relationships facilitated

___ Temperature adequate for season  ___ Easily moved around              ___ Knowledge of various cultures

      of the year                    ___ Seat height from floor                 and associated histories  

___ Adequate ventilation or air            adequate                             incorporated into learning  

      conditioning                   ___ Left handed learner              ___ Women learners disempowered or

___ "Warm" or "caring" setting             provided for                         devalued in any way



___ Adequate table or writing space  ___ Adequate access/egress to        ___ Learners helped to become

___ Can furnishing be rearranged           site for learners                    acquainted with each other

      for small group work or        ___ Adequate signage to direct       ___ Learners helped to feel at

      sociopetal needs                     learners to appropriate              ease and relaxed

___ Table space available for              sites                          ___ Special attention given to the

      refreshments/resources         ___ Lavatory/cafeteria/refresh-            very first encounter with

___ If sitting at tables can the           ment machines nearby                 learners

      learners cross their legs      ___ Adequate parking nearby          ___ Barriers learners may face

___ If learners sit at tables can    ___ Adequate lighting in parking           addressed by facilitators

      they be arranged in a square,        area and building hallways     ___ Barriers learners may face

      circle, or U-shape             ___ Adequate space shape and               addressed by administrators

___ Absence of ragged or sharp             size in learning site          ___ Learners helped to take more

      edges on all furnishings       ___ Breakout rooms/areas                   control of own learning

___ Adequate sturdiness for all            available if needed            ___ Facilitators trained in adult

      furnishings                    ___ Does the learning site have            learning literature and

___ Can learners see each other            flexibility and provide for          theory

      adequately when seated               learner movement if needed     ___ Facilitators trained in adult

___ Can learners see facilitator     ___ Learners facilitated in using          teaching techniques and

      adequately when seated               computer technology                  theory






          Following are lists of potential learning aids, resources, and activities that can be used to enhance adult learning activities. Analyze the agency in terms of whether or not any of these seem to exist or are used in any way. This can be through interviews, observations, reading of available documents, assessing of learning resources used by the agency, etc. Add to it other aids, resources, and activities the agency uses.


                                           Mediated Resources


_____  Journals/Magazines     _____   Television

_____  Programmed Learning    _____   Radio

_____  Mp3 Material           _____   Learning Modules/Kits

_____  Computers              _____   Films/Video Resources

_____  Workbooks              _____   Conferencing Software

_____  Interactive Video      _____   Elect. Networks/web pages


                Individualized Resources


_____  Travel                 _____   Self Talk/Self-Study Aids

_____  Competency Ratings     _____   Learning Projects

_____  Gaming Devices         _____   Personal Journals/Diaries

_____  Observations           _____   Internships

_____  Personal Inventories   _____   Stimulated Recall


                 Agency/Group Resources


_____  Classes                _____   Inter-Agency Exchanges

_____  Free Universities      _____   Conferences/Workshops

_____  Libraries              _____   Museums/Galleries

_____  Proprietary Schools    _____   Discussion Groups


                   Mentored Resources


_____  Peer Reviews           _____   Learning Partners

_____  Modeling               _____   Counseling/Testing

_____  Mentors                _____   Information Counselors

_____  Personality Analyses   _____   Networks/Networking


            Other Resources You Can Identify









Adapted from Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990, pp. 172-173.






An organizational audit is a procedure for examining the educational practices, procedures, programs, and policies of an agency.  At a minimum this should include four activities:


1.  Interviewing at least two people who work in the agency. One needs to be a top administrator of either the total agency or of a particular unit being examined. The second should be a person working to actually deliver services of some sort to clients, students, or trainees, such as a program planner, trainer, teacher, counselor, or coordinator. Additional people can be interviewed depending on time, availability, and permission of agency administrators.


2.  Observations within the agency, such as of on-going classes or programs, media centers, resource centers, and library materials.  It also should include an examination of learning resource materials.


3.  Acquiring available literature, documents, and reports that describe the policies, philosophy, and procedures of an agency or a particular unit being examined.


4.  Touring the facilities, including training centers, workshop sites, classrooms, tutorial rooms, etc.


Additional activities that would seem appropriate to help you acquire a good understanding of what the unit does in delivering continuing education or training programs, courses, or resources can be developed on site and with the support of agency administrators. For example, although it is frequently difficult, interviews with learners or trainees or past students sometimes can be quite informative.  Reading evaluative reports from students and others also can be useful if available.


The purpose of this particular audit is to obtain information about existing programs or opportunities for older adult learners. Your ultimate goal will be to produce a report of your findings.


To guide your information gathering efforts, following are some ideas, interview questions (two options are provided), and other tips.  They are only suggestive, however, of the many possibilities and you should feel free to derive your own collection strategies and criteria.



1.  Does your agency engage in teaching classes for older adults, conducting continuing education programs, or training people?


Yes                            No


If yes what type of classes, programs, and/or training sessions are available?







What kinds of teaching methods or approaches are used?







What kinds of audio/visual or technological teaching devices are used?







2.  Are there people in your agency responsible for the development of programs which provide learning experiences for older adults, other than direct teaching?


Yes                            No


If yes, what is the nature of these responsibilities?







3.  Are there people in your agency who supervise and/or conduct programs, other than direct teaching, which provide learning experiences for older adults?


Yes                            No


If so, what is the nature of their duties?






4.  Do you have a program for counseling older adults or adult groups either on a personal basis or through testing services which you offer?


Yes                            No


If yes, what is the nature of this counseling or testing service?







5.  Are there people in your agency who are responsible for the development of curriculum materials for classroom or non-class­room learning?


Yes                            No


If so, what are these learning experiences and what is the nature of the materials?







What kinds of self-directed, individualized learning opportunities are available?







What kinds of self-directed, individualized learning resources are available?








6.  Are there people in your agency who are responsible for coordinating and publicizing non-classroom or classroom teaching or training programs?


Yes                           No


If so, please describe these coordinating and publicizing efforts.





7.  Are there people in your agency who are primarily responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of older adult learning programs?


Yes                           No


If yes, please describe their jobs and/or their evaluation efforts?







8.  Are your programs financed by outside sources or are they self-supporting?


Outside                           Self-supporting


Please describe the financial support arrangements.







What other resources (materials, buildings, etc.) does your agency use for older adult learning and how are they acquired?







9.  Are there constraints or problems limiting the types and/or amounts of educational programs your agency can provide?


Yes                           No


If yes, please describe them.







10. Derive additional questions to help you obtain necessary information about learning opportunities, resources, or constraints in the agency?

INTERVIEW SCHEDULE B                                            




What are the goals, purposes, and objectives of the agency relative to older adult teaching, training, or learning? 






Are they stated anywhere, can employees read them, and, if available, can I obtain a copy? 






Have the purposes changed through the years and, if so, how? 






Is the agency affiliated with local, state, or national associations relative to older adult learning/training? 






What is the nature of the clientele served with these older adult learning/training programs?






Older Adult Learning/Training Organization and Administration


Who determines what shall be offered?                           






How are new programs initiated?






Where does the staff look for program/training ideas?






Is there a stated program/training philosophy?  Is it stated anywhere?  Can employees read the information, and, if available, can I obtain a copy? 






Are there self-directed, individualized learning opportunities, options, or resources available?     






What is the organizational structure of the agency?  How do training/continuing education staff fit within this structure?






Who are the supportive staff?  What is the nature of their roles?






How often are staff meetings held to discuss training/continuing education issues and programs?  What is the nature of these meetings?






What is the professional training of the staff involved with training/continuing education?






Are there planned in-service training programs for training/ continuing education staff?  What is the nature of such training?






How are training/continuing education programs promoted?  






How are instructors/trainers chosen?






How are they trained?






What are the constraints to program administration?








Self-support?  Partial subsidy?  Complete subsidy?  Other?






Are fees charged?  On what basis?






Can one register for educational programs by mail? 






Is there a charge for older adult counseling and testing?






How much are instructors paid and how are the paid?






Is there a refund policy?







What types of evaluation are used by instructors?






What types of evaluation are made by students and how is this information used?






How are the training/continuing education programs or opportunities evaluated?






What kinds of improvements are contemplated and how are they to be implemented?






Derive additional questions to help you obtain necessary information about learning opportunities, resources, or constraints in the agency?






I.   Preparation


          A.   Familiarize yourself with the learning projects interview procedure developed by Tough, the interview questions displayed in Supplement N, the interview questions shown on, or some other interviewing techniques that you could use to find out about another person's learning endeavors or experiences.


          B.   Become familiar with one or more of the following sources if at all possible:  Brockett and Hiemstra (1991); Candy, (1991); Tough (1971). In addition, look at some of the online journal articles by Hiemstra shown in the bibliography below.


II.  Presentation


          A.   Complete an interview of at least two older adults (more if possible) to determine what you can about their learning activities during the past year.


          B.   Obtain information relative to their learning activities, learning interests, self-directed learning preferences, etc.


          C.   Summarize your findings in a manner similar to how other learning projects information has been reported (see Supplement O) or in some other manner that makes sense to you.


          D.   Derive a statement of personal reflection and assessment based on the findings. This could be a 3-5 page paper or report of this information that you share with one or more colleagues and seek their feedback.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   That you will improve your understanding of older adults as learners.


          B.   That you will be able derive some personal reflections on the implications of your findings.


IV.   Miscellaneous


          A.   Remember to keep this activity very informal, as the intent is to help you obtain a greater appreciation for the field educational gerontology and older adults as learners.


          B.   Discussing what you develop with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.





          Interviews with adult learners will provide you with an opportunity to apply the information from class discussions and your readings to the "real world." You might decide to do in-depth interviews as Tough used to uncover information on adults' learning projects (see Interview Suggestions B), or you may wish to use the suggestions below to guide your questioning.


Suggested topics:


1.  Reasons for learning - Why do you learn? What motivates you to learn? Is your motivation to learn now the same as it was 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago?


2.  Areas of learning - What do you want to learn? If your "basic" leaning needs were met, and there were no constraints, what would you want to learn?


3.  Amount of learning - What have you learned during the past year? How many different learning projects or activities have you undertaken? Approximately how many hours have you spent in learning activities of all types during the past year?


4.  Preferred learning style - How do you learn? Do you learn most things in the same way? Where do you prefer to learn? When do you prefer to learn?


5.  Self-directed learning preferences - What are your expectancies regarding control of learning decisions? Do you consider yourself a self-directed learner?


6.  Barriers (situational, dispositional, institutional barriers) to learning - ­What keeps you from learning?


7.  Role of past educational experiences - What are your memories of your early education in school?


8. Role of others - How did your family view education? Do any of your teachers at any level stand out in your mind?


9. Potential for change - What would you like to change in relation to your own learning?




Hiemstra (1975),Appendix A, displays the interview schedule used for a study of older adult learners using the Learning Projects research protocol for part of the research project. To make direct comparisons with the tables shown in Supplement O, use this schedule.




Table 1. Sources Preferred by Adult Learners (by rank and age)

[Adapted from various learning project studies]







Books, articles, newspapers, etc.






Friend, relatives, peers



Group, group instructor



Personal experiences, observations



TV, radio, recordings, films






Displays, exhibits, museums



Programmed or self-study learning materials





The following three tables are from Hiemstra (1975).


Table 2. Older Adults’ Learning Projects: General Informationa


Informational Description



Average Per Person



Standard Deviation









aBased on 214 adults (average age = 68) with one or more learning projects.


Table 3. Number of Learning Projects Conducted in One Year


Number of Projectsa

Number of People

Percent of Peopleb

Accumulative Percent









































aSee Tough (1979) for comparable data.

bBased on a base of 214 individuals.


Table 4. Frequency of Type of Primary Planner of Learning Projects


Primary Planner of Project

No. With At Least One Project

Average No. With Planner

A group or its Leader/Instructor



One Person in One-to-One Situation



Material/Non-Human Resource



The Learner Him or Herself



Mixed (No Dominant Type)




Table 5. Learning Projects: Supportive Information


Informational Description

Number of Projectsa

Percent of Projects

Current Status of Project:









Reason for Doing Project:



To Obtain Credit



For a Test or Examination



For Job Improvement/Acquisition






Mixed Reasons



Primary Planner of Project:



A Group or Its Leader/Instructor



One Person in a One-to-One Situation



Material/Non-Human Resource



The Learner Him or Herself



Mixed (No Dominant Planner Type)



Subject Matter Area:















Source of Subject Matter:



Group/Group Instructor









Programmed/Self-Study Materials












Mixed Source



aProject totals for each major category are not always equal because of occasional non-responses.



I.   Preparation (any one of the following - 15 to 25 hours of total study, reflection, and sharing with others would be expected as a means of achieving adequate proficiency)


          A.   Complete an extensive paper on some topic related to the course content such as an elaboration, discussion, and/or analysis of older adult learning.


          B.   Acquaint yourself with the literature related to educational gerontology and older adult learning by carrying out some reading activity that goes beyond that described in #2 above. This would include reading of a fairly broad, overview nature and would result in an interactive reading log, diary, journal, etc. (see Supplements P, Q, and R).


          C.   Plan and, if possible, conduct a research study related to older adult learning, motivation and/or development – or—write a journal article related in some way to older adult learning, motivation, development, etc.


          D.   Plan (and implement, if possible) an educational program for older adult learners or design a training module related in some respect to aging and older adult learning.


          E.   Write your own personal life history or assist an older person in writing a personal life history including reflections on the corresponding learning processes that were involved.


          F.   Negotiate an activity of your own choosing as a means of acquiring some in-depth knowledge about the foundations of gerontology in education.


II.  Presentation


          A.   Develop the materials in whatever style or fashion that works for you. You might use narrative with footnoting, general discussion, step-wise discussion (1, 2, etc.), fictional narrative, etc., depending on what choice you make. APA 6th stylistic guidelines are recommended (see for a primer on use APA 6th).


          B.   Prepare a 5-25 page (or more) typed or word processed (double-spaced) report of your discussion and information unless some other type of product makes more sense.


          C.   Share your information with a colleague and ask for feedback on your work.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   To facilitate your carrying out some in-depth study, acquisition, and comprehension of knowledge related to some course content area.


          B.   To enhance your analytical skills in comparing, contrasting, and critically reflecting on various sources of information.


IV.  Miscellaneous


          A.   Consider selecting a person, topic, or agency related to the educational gerontology with whom or which you are not familiar as it will make it more meaningful.


          B.   Discussing what you develop with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.  



          The interactive reading log is an assignment designed to give you a thoughtful exposure to a broad area of subject matter. It is intended to place relatively greater stress on reading and less stress on intensive writing related to a limited topic. A log is not an outline and except for the suggestions given below, it is not a summary. On the other hand, it is essentially a series of reactions to those elements in your readings that are particularly meaningful and/or provocative.

          The items selected for reaction may include books, media, or professional journal articles. They may be part or all of a pamphlet or book. You may skip some sections, skim others, read others at a normal rate, or read some passages more carefully and in depth. The spacing and number of reactions would depend on the scope of your reading and purposes. It might involve the selection of sentences and/or longer passages striking for their clarity, insight, stimulation, and usefulness. It might include items which you regard ambiguous, exaggerated, poorly reasoned, insufficiently supported, or with which you disagree. But, in essence, your reaction calls for a comment explaining why you believe the item is stimulating, exaggerated, useful, etc. 

          Also it may be related to and combined with other ideas or illustrated by references to research and practical experience.  More specifically, you might ask, "if this fact, point, or idea is true, then what does it mean for other facts, points, or ideas, and/or what does it mean for practice?"  Another appropriate question might be "can the idea be operationalized for purposes of research?"  The preceding suggestions include a similar treatment of longer units of subject matter such as an article, chapter, or even a whole book in which the reaction is less itemized and more global in character.

          The length and scope of the log would vary with the type of reference selected and the intensity of treatment given to each item.  In one case the log could consist of widely spaced reactions to a variety of selections.  In another case the log could consist of longer reactions to fewer references carefully selected for reading in depth. You could even write one or more book reviews (Brockett, 1985b).

          In general the format might consist of one or two paragraphs as an introduction explaining the reasons for your choices of the subject area covered, the log of reactions (which would constitute the bulk of the report), a two or three page retrospective overview of the effort as a whole, and conclude with a list of references utilized. Some people enjoy reacting to the readings by using some color coding system, by placing personal comments in one column and direct quotes or summaries in another column, or by "dialoguing" as if face-to-face with the author. The idea is to read and react letting the experience help you to grow in knowledge, to think, and to express your thoughts as a synthesis of the reading experience. The final result is a product that you can share with others and seek their feedback.




          The personalized journal or diary is a tool to aid you in terms of personal growth, synthesis, and/or reflection on new knowledge that is acquired. The use of a diary or journal by adults to enhance learning is not a new phenomenon. However, it has been confined until recently primarily to those using such an activity in conjunction with professional writing, for religious, psychological or meditative reasons, or for personal pleasure.

          Beginning in 1965, Ira Progoff and colleagues begin seeing the value of personal journals in enhancing growth and learning. He has written several books, but the one most appropriate for this learning activity selection is Progoff (1975), in which he talks about how to teach journal writing. Gross (1977), and Rainer (1978) also talk about the diary as a learning tool for adults and Brookfield (1987, 1995) provides some useful ideas pertaining to critically reflective writing. An additional excellent source is Christensen (1981), in which she describes how a diary can be used as a learning tool for adults. The text of this article is shown in the “Miscellaneous Materials” section of this workbook, and it is highly recommended. Finally, the increasing popularity of on-line BLOGS or Weblogs can provide you with insight on how others have created their journals, diaries, and personal logs for WWW use. See for an interesting history of these publications.

          Thus, consider developing a personalized journal, diary, or log as a means of assisting you to obtain the maximum amount of interaction, knowledge, and personal growth from your reading efforts.  





I.       Preparation


          A.   The assumption serving as a basis for this activity is that you need to "learn to think" its terminology, theory, and knowledge and to make application to a current or proposed vocation.


          B.   On your own, discover what is meant by "theory," at least in terms that are meaningful to you.


II.  Activity and Presentation


          A.   Throughout your learning efforts make notes to yourself regarding what you perceive to be theoretical concepts, salient points, truths, bridges to known theory, ideas to be tested, gaps in the knowledge, etc.


          B.   During and/or toward the end of your study efforts attempt to organize your notes and thoughts into some cohesive format. This can be in the form of a log, a statement, an outline, or whatever else seems appropriate in expressing whatever grasp you have of the theory (or theory pieces) providing a foundation for the course content, including the absence of theory, needed theory, gaps, etc. This does not have to be a long statement unless you so desire. The purpose is to communicate some of your conceptions regarding short-term meeting planning and management.


          C.   Share your report/log/paper/etc. with colleagues and seek their feedback.


III. Educational Goals


          A.   To assist you in gaining experience in analyzing or deriving the theory underlying a content area, i.e., the body of basic knowledge.


          B.   To facilitate your obtaining experience in stating the theory, making contributions to the theory, and determining where an understanding or determination of theory is still needed.


IV.  Miscellaneous


          A.   Discussing what you develop with others can be a useful way of adding personal knowledge by listening to critiques or suggestions and even challenging what others say about your product.


          B.   The following statements about theory may be helpful:


          Theory--a generalization or series of generalizations by which an attempt is made to explain some phenomenon in as systematic a manner as possible.


                   Theory--set of assumptions from which can be derived a set of empirical laws or principles (that can be tested).


                   Theory can be used as a guide to action, a guide to collect data, a guide to new knowledge, or a guide to explain.


                   Theory is not a philosophy, a taxonomy, a dream, or something personal.


                   You don't prove a theory--you build a theory by empirically testing a variety of related assumptions (expand, clarify, build).






Another useful tool for understanding the dynamics of adulthood is offered by Howard McClusky (1974) in his theory of Power-Load-Margin. According to McClusky, the key factors of adult life are the load the adult carries in living, and the power which is available to him or her to carry the load. Margin is the ratio between load and power. It is the power available to a person over and beyond that required to handle any personal load. By load we mean the demands made on a person by self and society. By power we mean the resources such as abilities, possessions, positions, or allies which a person can call upon in coping with load. More explanation can be found at this web site:




A Paper Presented at the International Symposium on "Learning Across the Life Span:

Implications for Initial and Adult Education"

[Note:  A later version of this paper is a chapter in Tuijnman and van der Kamp (1992) shown in the workbook bibliography]


June 20-21

University of Groningen

The Netherlands


Roger Hiemstra

Fayetteville, NY




          Good morning!  I am pleased to be here and to share in your efforts to think through some issues related to initial through adult education.  Even though a prior commitment prevents me from staying for the entire symposium, I would be pleased to assist in whatever way I can in the future as this is a topic in which I am very interested.  I will be teaching at the University of Twente in Enschede April, May, and June of 1992 so will be more accessible during that time period to colleagues in Holland.  At any rate, you can use the information on the front cover of this presentation to contact me.

          I was asked to look specifically at the topic "Aging and Learning" and I have added as a sub-heading, "An Agenda for the Future," with the intent of providing some ideas or models that may be useful in the future development of related policy, programs, and research for the Netherlands.  I think it is very appropriate to begin this symposium with the aged, because they are an underserved and untapped potential. 

          Actually, those of you attending this symposium most likely are aware of the growth in numbers of elderly participating in learning activities.  I certainly know this growth has taken and continues to take place in the United States and anticipate it is true here, too, or it will be in the future.  Coinciding with this growth has been an increasing amount of research on older adults as learners.  Just as an example, Adult Education Quarterly, Adult Learner, Educational Gerontology, the Gerontologist, the International Journal of Aging and Human Behavior, and the Journal of Gerontology are some of the US journals that regularly report on such research. 

          This research has focused on various areas.  Some has been on physiological problems adults face as they age, such as various visual or hearing losses and the impact this has on learning.  For example, Williams (1990) reported that recent epidemiological studies of several aging populations revealed interesting differences in the effects of visual versus hearing deficits on such functions as memory.  People with declines in vision are more likely to have difficulty in remembering recently acquired information.  Hearing loss appears closely associated with long-term memory and visual perception more closely associated with short-term memory.

          Researchers also have studied how information is processed, short and long-term memory, intelligence measures, motivation, and life stages.  Sternberg (1985, 1986, 1991; Sternberg & Wagner, 1986), for example, talks about intelligence in terms of what he calls a triarchic theory and selective combination or comparisons that people make.  He suggests that there is more to intelligence, whether it is adult intelligence or practical intelligence, than can be measured by standard IQ tests.  He believes there is an external or social aspect of intelligent behavior where people can learn to adapt or shape their world.  Another aspect is what he calls experiential or the role experience can play through a person's ability to cope with novelty or to automate familiar tasks.  Another aspect is tied to the more common internal or mental processes of planning, encoding, and problem solving.  Sternberg has created much interest in rethinking what is known about intelligence.  Much research is needed to understand his work in terms of older learners, but the value of experience alone in older people make such research vitally important.

          Other research areas have included cognitive styles, learning to learn, learning needs and activities of older people, and life satisfaction.  For example, Kolodny (1991) describes the importance of understanding learners' cognitive styles for teaching success.  Three of my students have completed dissertations related to the life satisfaction of older adult learners finding the anticipated positive correlations between active learning and life satisfaction measures (Brockett, 1982; Estrin, 1985; Henry, 1989).  Many people at this symposium no doubt will discuss several of these topics in more detail.

          In the few minutes that I have, I'll briefly describe three programs developed for older learners that might serve as models for future development in the Netherlands.  I'll also talk about my own research on adult learning and instruction during the past 15 years and summarize some instructional implications I have gleaned from either my research or the literature.  Finally, I'll suggest some future policy ideas that could be considered during and after this symposium.




          One thing that is quite clear is that individual differences among the aged do exist.  Older adults, especially if being considered as learners, cannot be treated or viewed as a single group.  The elderly are heterogeneous, multi-dimensional in characteristics, and varied in terms of needs and abilities.  For example, several researchers and program developers have shown how successful older adults can be in educational pursuits.  Fisher (1986), Galbraith and James (1984), and Peterson (1983) are only a few doing such work in the US.  In my own research (Hiemstra, 1975, 1976) I have found that most adults in the 65-75 year old range will spend 325 hours or more each year engaged in what a Canadian research, Allen Tough, calls learning projects (Tough, 1971, 1979).  In a longitudinal study I have had underway since 1975 (Hiemstra, 1982), I have determined that many adults keep involved with learning activities into their 80's and 90's.

          One viable example of such active involvement in the US is the Elderhostel movement.  Initiated in 1974 by Marty Knowlton in the New England area (Knowlton, 1977), Elderhostel is a confederation of provider institutions, mainly colleges and universities, that sponsors programs for people over 60.  These programs are patterned after the youth hostels and folk schools found in many parts of Europe and Scandinavia.  As Kinney (1989) points out, 165,000 older learners participate in programs throughout the US and 38 foreign countries in 1988.  Those numbers continue to increase.  In my hometown, LeMoyne College, a private liberal arts college in a Jesuit tradition, hosts over 500 people each year in 30 to 40 different groups.  These groups participate in about 20 week-long programs over such topics as the Decades of the 30's, 40's, and 50's, the history of New York's old canal system (the Erie Canal), and famous women throughout history.  Perhaps you have Elderhostel or similar programs in Holland.  If not, it would be a viable model you could study for future program development purposes.

          Another example is SeniorNet, a service that comes from San Francisco, California.  SeniorNet provides an electronic community for people 55 or older having an interest in obtaining computer skills.  SeniorNet involvement (it costs $25 per year plus phone charges) provides members with computer-related literature, a newsletter, an annual conference, and a national electronic network over the Delphi system for electronic mail, electronic conferences, and access to various data bases.  SeniorNet has several thousand members in nearly 50 cities around the US.  In a recent survey of 1400 members, it was found that they used computers for various activities ranked in the following way:  Word processing, personal finances management, tele-communications, business, hobbies, and miscellaneous (Why We Use Computers, 1990). 

          Syracuse University through the Graduate Program of Adult Education currently is one of the member sites.  We provide a campus location with several computers to older people who wish to gather to talk about computers, use them for various purposes, and use SeniorNet.  We also administer a project where we use the education of older adults in direct relation to initial education, a need suggested by Max van der Kamp in the concept paper he developed for this symposium (van der Kamp, 1991).  This project, entitled "Computers and the Elderly," involves training older people in various aspects of computer literacy.  They in turn volunteer in the Syracuse Public Schools to introduce first and second graders to word processing and teach fifth graders language arts through computers (Hiemstra, 1987).

          My own research during the past five years has begun to focus on some practical implications related to this heavy involvement of adults in learning, especially older adults as I noted earlier.  Much of it is related to learning how to learn, one of the scientific viewpoints Max van der Kamp wants discussed and considered at this symposium.  For example, I have developed some procedures for helping practitioners teach older adults (Hiemstra, 1980).  A colleague, Burton Sisco, and I also have been working on some new approaches for teaching adults and have developed various corresponding instructional procedures that have potential for your consideration during and after the symposium (Hiemstra & Sisco, 1990).  We believe that what we call an individualizing instructional process has potential for adult learners.  Based on considerable research on the self-directed learning activities of adults (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991), and building on Sternberg and others' notions about practical intelligence and the role of experience, the six-step individualizing process we developed includes the following:  Step one -- planning activities prior to the first meeting with learners; two -- creating a positive learning environment; three -- developing the instructional plan; four -- identifying appropriate learning activities; five -- monitoring the progress of learners; six -- evaluating individual learner outcome.  The process enables learners to assume considerable responsibility for their own learning.

          There also are various obstacles faced by older adults you should consider in your future policy and program development efforts, regardless of the instructional process being used.  Although some problems specific to a location or economic group will exist, typical obstacles include inadequate transportation, time limitations, high costs, low self-esteem or self-confidence, stereotypes regarding the elderly and education, and lack of knowledge about various learning opportunities.  Health-related limitations and overall health status also can impact on learning ability and activity, such as fatigue, reduced mobility, and declining hearing or visual acuity.

          The instructor's role also is important in terms of the speed used to present information to older learners.  This means allowing for adequate response time, using recognition rather than recall techniques, providing adequate feedback on learner progress, and employing self or peer-evaluation techniques.

          Another related area of study I have concentrated on during the past decade pertains to building effective learning environments (Hiemstra, 1991).  I define a learning environment as all of the physical surroundings, psychological or emotional conditions, and social or cultural influences affecting the growth and development of an adult engaged in an educational enterprise.  This entails paying attention to the physical spaces in which learning takes place.  It involves understanding issues like the emotional baggage an adult learner might bring to the learning setting.  It necessitates that educators and trainers be conscious of various social or cultural impediments that might affect learning activities.

          For example, as a male my awareness of several limitation in my own teaching approaches was heightened when I began to read some of the literature related to what in the US has become known as "women's ways of knowing."  Personally I have begun to incorporate more information and approaches that speak to what this aspect of the learning environment has begun to teach me.  Racism, whether overt, subtle, or unconscious is another area that needs to be confronted by those of us setting policy and developing programs (Colin & Preciphs, 1991).  One thing that I have determined from the kind of research I have reported, and not too surprising to you I'm sure, is that so much more needs to be learned.




          I know that Max and Willem hope that some future policies associated with initial and adult education will result from this symposium's activities.  The development of policy applicable for any age learner, interested educators, and educational, community, or governmental agencies is a difficult and complicated activity.  It requires accumulating considerable knowledge about learners.  It also necessitates recognizing the complex nature of most human or societal problems.  The application of personal and institutional philosophies to building policies also can be a crucial step.  Finally, incorporating policy recommendations into practice activities requires much care, dedication, and patience.

          I have developed a group of policy statements initially in concert with some adult education colleagues and later refined as I carried out some of the additional research reported in this paper.  I define a policy as a recommended course of action for achieving some goal or meeting some need, such as creating new educational services for older learners.  Further, I believe the purpose of a policy is to serve as a framework for decision-making rather than as a dogmatic rule or administrative directive.  In the case of this symposium, policy suggestions may help set an agenda for the future. 


Policy Area

Policy Recommendation

Implementation Strategies

Older adults as learners

Encourage older learners to examine personal strengths and weaknesses

Assist older adults to complete self-inventories or self-concept measures

Adult education organizations

Organizations working with older learners should provide learning environments that accommodate learning

Examine the learning environment in terms of physical, emotional, and social issues; make any needed changes


Although the policies have been written with the adult rather than initial learner in mind, I share them with you in the hope they will be useful as you and your colleagues shape some future policies for the Netherlands.

          I look forward to engaging in some dialogue with any of you regarding some of the ideas I have shared today.




          Brockett, R. G. (1982). Self-directed learning readiness and life satisfaction among older adults. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

          Brockett, R. G. & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-direction in adult learning: Perspectives on theory, research, and practice. London, UK: Routledge.

          Colin, S. A. J. III & Preciphs, T. K. (1991). Perceptual patterns and the learning environment: Confronting White racism. In R. Hiemstra (Ed.), Creating environments for effective adult learning (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 50). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

          Estrin, H. R. (1985). Life satisfaction and participation in learning activities among widows. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

          Fisher, J. C. (1986). Participation in educational activities by active older adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 36, 202-210.

          Galbraith, M. W. & James, W. B. (1984). Assessment of dominant perceptual learning styles of older adults. Educational Gerontology, 10, 449-458.

          Henry, N. J. (1989). A qualitative study about perceptions of lifestyle and life satisfaction among older adults. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

          Hiemstra, R. (1975). The older adult and learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 117 371).

          Hiemstra, R. (1976). The older adult's learning projects. Educational Gerontology, 1, 331‑341.

          Hiemstra, R. (1980). Preparing human service practitioners to teach older adults (Information Series No. 209). Columbus, OH: Ohio State University, ERIC Clearinghouse for Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 193 529).

          Hiemstra, R. (1982). The elderly learner: A naturalistic inquiry. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Adult Education Research Conference (pp. 103-107). Adult and Continuing Education, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.

          Hiemstra, R. (1987). Older people master personal computer use. Perspectives on Aging, 16(1), 19.

          Hiemstra, R. (Ed.). (1991). Creating environments for effective adult learning (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 50). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

          Hiemstra, R. & Sisco, B. (1990). Individualizing instruction: Making learning personal, empowering, and successful. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Publishers.

          Kinney, M. B. (1989). Elderhostel: Can it work at your institution? Adult Learning, 1(3), 21-24.

          Knowlton, M. P. (1977). Liberal arts: The Elderhostel plan for survival. Educational Gerontology, 2, 87‑94.

          Kolodny, A. (1991, February 6). Colleges must recognize students' cognitive styles and cultural backgrounds. Chronicle of Higher Education, A44.

          Peterson, D. A. (1983). Facilitating education for older learners. San Francisco: Jossey‑Bass.

          Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.

          Sternberg, R. J. (1986). Intelligence applied: Understanding and increasing your intellectual skills. Orlando, Fl: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

          Sternberg, R. J. (1991). Understanding adult intelligence. Adult Learning, 2(6), 8-10.

          Sternberg, R. H., & Wagner, R. K. (Eds.). (1986). Practical intelligence: Nature and origin of competence. New York: Cambridge University Press.

          Tough, A. (1971). The adult's learning projects. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

          Tough, A. M. (1979). The adult's learning projects (2nd ed.). Austin, Texas: Learning Concepts.

          van der Kamp, M. (1991). Learning across the life span: Implications for initial and adult education. A concept paper developed for an international symposium with the same title, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

          Why we use computers. (1990). Seniornet Newsline, Fall, 4.

          Williams, T. F. (1990, June). Research needs in aging and vision (A supplement to the following periodical). NCVA Aging & Vision News, 3(1), 1-2.




          This is a paper developed for a conference on working with older adult women. It can be found at the following web site: http:/


(Note:  The names used are pseudonyms for purposes of confidentiality, although I have attempted to maintain the "flavor" of each name)


Mr. George Washington Brown


          A man of medium height and slight build, Mr. Brown is 99 years of age.  He lives in the extended care wing of a large nursing home in a medium sized mid-western town.  Born of Midwest farm pioneers in April of 1882, Mr. Brown was the first of seven children.  His mother spent some time as a country school teacher and his father stayed involved with the livestock business most of his life.  Until he was 19, Mr. Brown was never more than 20 miles from home.

          A love of farming sent him to a land-grant university for a degree in agriculture.  While an undergraduate, Mr. Brown helped conduct corn research and carries on such interests today.  The Cooperative Extension Service came into being in one state about the time Mr. Brown was graduating and he became one of the first Extension agents there.  Among one of the most exciting chapters in Mr. Brown's life was involvement with the famous "corn train" adult education experiments sponsored by Extension, where trains traveled around the state with cars converted to educational labs and classrooms so farmers could receive instruction at each stop.  Married in 1908, he and his wife had five children.  All are still living, as are some 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

          When I first interviewed Mr. Brown in 1975, he got around only with the use of a walker (a stroke a few years earlier had left some permanent mobility limitations).  The lack of mobility did not affect a very active mind, however.  A laboratory effect was in place in his nursing home room, with corn samples in abundance, a variety of farm records and other charts neatly arranged in piles, and an obviously often used electric typewriter the center of attention.  He reported that he still obtained corn samples from colleagues in several states or in Mexico.  He was actively pursuing work on two books and wondering what to do with all the photographs of farm buildings he had collected on a journey throughout the United States after his retirement.

          When I asked him about his apparent involvement and success with lifelong learning, he had several observations.  He noted that he had received lots of encouragement from home to do reading and to go on to college (his mother had graduated from college and his father had completed some high school).  Mr. Brown also believed he had more "stick-to-itiveness" than the average person and also perceived of himself as a forward looking person.  He also noted that necessity was the mother of invention and that he had on many occasions used that motto to keep himself going on some tough research problem or learning activity.


Mrs. Louse Mae Wilson


          Mrs. Wilson is a woman of medium height and quite slender.  She is 84 years of age.  She appeared very alert on my first contact with her in 1975.  Her home was very tidy, several books were in evidence, and lots of beautiful art work hung on the walls.  Mrs. Wilson also was very interested in my research and had prepared several pages of notes, apparently based on the few preliminary comments about the research that I had mentioned on the phone.  She also asked me lots of questions.  Thus, our first visit consumed some three hours.  My two subsequent visits with here were not much shorter and mail or phone conversations always have been most interesting.

          Born of pioneer stock in a small Midwestern town, she was the oldest of three children.  Her mother had 11 years of high school plus some normal school training; she taught school in a rural community for awhile and during her many years as a homemaker was involved in a variety of part-time money making projects.  Mrs. Wilson's father also had 11 years of high school and worked as a carpenter and in a flour mill.  Mrs. Wilson and her husband had four children, all of whom were well educated.

          Mrs. Wilson graduated from a teachers college and taught high school for 23 years.  Even during her 20 years primarily as a homemaker, she worked part-time with a school lunch program.  She was involved in a variety of organizations and activities when I first met her in 1975.  She had been to Europe four times between 1970 and 1975.  Mrs. Wilson also was then and has since been involved in various writing activities.  She has published two books of free verse.  Here is a sample:


       Creatively Productive


To be creatively productive

From year to year

Is an achievement to be desired.

One has to work at it.

Perhaps the first step

Is to look for hidden talents

And to realize that tasks of any kind

Can be creative if done with a loving heart.

Patience, father persistence

Will bring their own reward

If we refuse to sit with folded hands.


          That philosophy so epitomizes Mrs. Wilson's outlook on life.  In a recent communication, she said about the activity of writing:  "In my opinion, writing could well be used more widely as an interesting hobby for those in the 'last quarter.'  Starting with family stories youth love to hear, it doesn't require unusual talent--just an interest."  She also noted, "At 84 I'm 'slowed down' by failing health but would still affirm what I said in 1975, I still believe one should maintain contacts in many fields in so far as opportunity presents.

          When I asked her about some ideas regarding her successful learning activities, she noted that you need to keep active and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.  "You have to prepare for old age early on."  She also noted that she finds pride in all that she does.


Mr. Edward Bode


          Mr. Bode, age 82, was born in 1900 in a western state, the second of seven children.  All seven children (all boys) obtained either masters or doctoral degrees.  His father was a minister, had a masters degree (divinity school), and was a good influence on his children although he pushed them to their limits.  His mother was a college graduate, too, and he remembers her as having the most overall influence on the children through reading to them and quietly encouraging them toward success.

          The holder of a masters degree, Mr. Bode taught school for four years.  He then served as a public school administrator for some twenty years and as a personnel director for twenty years.  A Red Cross volunteer for nearly 50 years, Mr. Bode also has done volunteer work for the Veteran's Administration, vocational rehabilitation, and the United Fund.  He also served as a program host on Educational Television for a period.  He has an enthusiastic feeling for others and this shows in all that he does:  "I love people."

          Although he has had two massive heart attacks in his life, he has amazing energy and vitality.  He does a variety of exercises and lots walking daily.  He proudly communicated to me a recent accomplishment, the publishing of his biography.  He also does some free verse:


The world doesn't know you, so

The world doesn't care.

I am the one who knows you.

                             Your burdens I gladly share.

                                      Lay them on me!


          When I asked him to suggest some of the reasons for his success in life and as an active person, he suggested that because his parents were involved in many activities, they encouraged activity in their children.  He also noted recently, "Because of my home life as a youth and the training and examples set for me, I probably have a greater feeling for others than most of my peers.


Dr. Felicia Lohrman


          At 102 years of age, Dr. Lohrman is the oldest resident of a nursing home in a large Midwestern city.  Born in a state in the northeastern part of the country, her family was at one time involved in the underground railroad movement.  She was the second of five children.  Her parents were both high school graduates and also attended some schooling beyond that.  Her parents owned and operated a farm.  She never married.

          Dr. Lohrman obtained a Ph.D. in educational research and served primarily as a researcher and educational consultant much of her working life.  She also was a college professor, worked with the social placement of children and in foster home work.  In 1975, although at that time in a nursing home and with very little mobility, she spent an unusually large amount of time each day reading.  Declining health and energy since then has reduced such activity but she still does some reading, has others read to her, and participates in discussion activities almost every week.  Dr. Lohrman has written several professional articles in her lifetime and did considerable traveling before her mobility became limited.

          When we talked about her involvement and success as a learner, she suggested that inherited genes, continuing interest and responsibility, a curious mind, and a strong desire for education were important factors.  In a recent communication, she noted:  "I think of education as a life process unless a person is senile."  She added, "I have come to respect the learning of every intelligent person and am sorry for those evidently lacking an active mind."  She concluded with, "I firmly believe that mental and physical strength should be generally conserved.  Pathetic is my word for the person of any age who has lost contact with reality."

Dear Diary: A Learning Tool for Adults

By Rachel S. Christensen

Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 5(2), 1981, 4-5, 31

(Printed here by permission of the senior editor) 

The adult learner is here to stay. We know from studies exploring the extent of adult learning what a high percent­age of adults are actively involved in learning projects. Observers of these learners are recommending that tools be developed to assist lifelong learners in accomplishing learning tasks more effectively.

A particular tool, which has been serving adult learners for centuries, yet about which little is known, is the diary or personal journal. Its most familiar form is as a chronological record of per­sonal or historical events. It is also com­monly used as a trip or project log. However, another form of journal re­cording has emerged in this introspec­tive 20th century in which the content emphasizes one's feelings and reflec­tions on an event, rather than stressing the factual information. It is this ap­proach that can have relevance for life­long learners.


The Interest in Diaries and Journals


The writing of diaries and journals has been frequently practiced by those involved in a religious life or in the creative arts. We can also turn to such pioneers of modern psychology as Freud, Jung, and Adler to learn from them the significance in recording one's dreams, fantasies, inner thoughts, and feelings. In recognizing the sub­conscious as an influence in human development, they opened a door for new exploration of personality.

Journal researcher, Tristine Rainer (1978), identifies four pioneers of psy­chology and literature in this century who helped conceptualize the princi­ples of modern journal writing: Carl Jung, Marion Milner, Ira Progoff, and Anais Nin. These writers and thinkers believed that the personal journal permits the writer to tap valu­able inner resources by recording dreams, inner imagery, intuitive writ­ing, and even drawings.

There have been an increasing num­ber of seminars and workshops avail­able to adult learners on journal writ­ing. What is it that is being described? It is, as Rainer titles her book, The New Diary. In other words, it is some­thing beyond the popular notion of diary as a chronological entry of events usually made on a daily basis. In this newer form there are no rules of com­position. The content, structure, and style are up to the writer. No one will judge or grade this paper and the de­gree of sharing and privacy is left in the writer's hands. As Rainer (1978) states, "For some people learning to be free in their diaries is a way of learning to be free with themselves." This may explain the current interest in journal writing. The experience of journal keeping frees people to explore and develop their potentials and abilities. These are goals which have been strongly encouraged by the human po­tential movement and which have foundations in the current interest in self-directed adult learning.


Finding the Inner Self


This tendency toward continued growth and self-actualization is part of the evidence uncovered by Canadian researcher, Allen Tough (1971) in studying the learning projects of adults. He went beyond the initial surveys of adult learning projects to look more closely at how adults approach these projects, what resources they use, and what problems they encounter. His interviews and the subsequent inter­views of other researchers with adult learners tell us that self-teaching is the method most often used. Tough and many others have also found the qualities of self-reliance and self-awareness prev­alent among active adult learners.

As we assess the needs of lifelong learners, the journa1 or diary should be considered as a resource which en­courages and enhances self-reliance and self-awareness. It is in the solitude of blank pages that adults can reflect on their life experience, contemplate future directions, and come to trust more deeply their own answers.

Finding the inner self is not an easy task when the modern fast-paced cul­ture provides little space for contem­plation. Like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, we're often in too great a hurry to listen to our inner wis­dom. Encouraged by the values of a technological age, we try to produce more at a faster rate. So too in educa­tion, where some say, "How can we help adults learn more and how can they learn faster?" Yet isn't there a sacrifice made when you travel by super­highway and miss the beauty of country roads?

Thus, the journal is one means for providing a safeguard against this tend­ency in our culture. The outer-directed emphasis in our lives can be countered with an emphasis on inner direction by taking time to write and reflect in the journal. As we become better listeners to the inner movement of ourselves, we become less dependent on external definition or advice from the experts, and more affirming of our unique re­sources and abilities.

Much of our creativity is seeded in unconscious parts of the personality. It is in moments of solitude that insights are able to float to our consciousness and be recognized. In his book The Courage to Create, Rollo May (1975) writes of the hesitancy people have in being quiet and alone long enough to listen to inner levels. They are wary of what might be heard. Yet, May finds a "fascinating relationship" between creativity and unconscious phenomena. It is in those moments away from ra­tional thinking that the intuitive self can break through with creative in­sight. Unconscious dimensions of ex­perience are always at work; still there is reluctance to pause and listen to the messages. If creativity can be tapped from the deeper levels within, then adult learners need to be introduced to ways of using the journal as a means of recording these connections.


Using Journal Writing


How does one begin? My own ex­perience started in high school with a bound book entitled "My Private Life." It still sits on my bookshelf and I treas­ure the contents, chuckling each time I read it. Perceptions I now hold firmly were taking root at that time, as evi­denced in the entries. Following is a recording made in 1959:


It seemed like going steady was a fad in the winter of ‘59. Everyone was at­tached except me. Sometimes I'd wish to be able to go steady with someone, but it would soon pass. Someday I'll find my man; he won't be perfect, but he'll be what I want. If I don't find him, who cares? I will be a rich old maid English teacher.


My interest in journal keeping was not revived until 10 years later when I began a career transition. The ap­proach I took then was to use the pages of a spiral bound notebook as space to develop a "roadmap" for myself during that time of ambiguity and uncertainty about my future direction. The journal served as a place for me to organize my learning activities between jobs and to evaluate what had been accomplished at particular intervals.

As I became more comfortable in writing these objective entries, self-consciousness waned and there ap­peared to be more description of feel­ings and personal reactions to people and events in my life. The realization that my journal would not be open to outside scrutiny also lowered inhibi­tions. Entries were not made fre­quently, but often enough to benefit my personal growth. Following are more recent entries from my journal:


(Portion of a letter to friend, 1971)

This is the first time I've had so much unstructured time that it is somewhat frightening; because it is I that must take responsibility for structuring my time and not some outside factor, i.e. school. Needless to say, it is exciting to begin to shape some creative form in the open "canvas" of time that I call mine this year.


(excerpt from 1973)

God, this has been a depressing year at times. Fortunately the waves have gone up as well as down, so my strength and sense of self returns once again with courage. But it seems my lows have been deeper than I've ever known. Yet I think in coming so directly in con­tact with my fears, I come out with more courage. I wish my identity and life would hurry up and take more form.


(excerpt from 1974)

Looking through this journal for a few minutes each morning is a way of re­minding me of my Self–my soul, my ref1ective, creative part–in the midst of tasks, errands, chores. To keep in touch with Me a bit each day keeps cre­ative energies growing.


Understanding the variety of ways to maintain journals has expanded with each new resource I discover –friends who utilize particular techniques or those who have organized a framework for teaching and encouraging others in the practice of journal work.

The most thorough and concise framework has been developed by Ira Progoff, a psychologist and founder of Dialogue House in New York City. His perspective on the human personality is influenced by C. J. Jung with whom he studied in Europe. His approach to journal work is based on 10 years spent as Director of the Institute for Research in Depth Psychology at the Graduate School of Drew University, where he and his staff collected the life histories of a wide spectrum of persons in order to study adult development. He also drew upon his experience and experi­mentation with the use of journals, both for himself and in his therapeutic practice.

Having tested, expanded, and refined this framework in hundreds of journal workshops, Progoff's Intensive Jour­nal method allows people to start wherever they are and begin to bring focus and clarity to their lives. He de­scribes it as "a method of working pri­vately at the inner levels of our life" (Progoff, 1975). The method is re­ferred to as the Intensive Journal in that it is not simply a passive record of events, but rather an active system of dialogue and feedback among the var­ious sections.

Progoff is critical of the spontaneous method of journal work, the danger being that a person could keep "elo­quently moving in circles" forever if the contents are not used in such a way as to bring new self-understanding and forward momentum. He also finds a journal can be limiting when it is used only to reach a pre-decided goal, in that it is "not related to the large develop­ment of life as a whole." When an in­dividual's attitudes are fixed and in­flexible, and the goals already chosen, a journal then becomes a "static tool . . . not an instrument of growth but of self­-justification" (Progoff, 1975).

It is important to Progoff that this tool be as free as possible from imposi­tion of others' values and that it be used by the learner without assistance from any outside authority, once the method is understood. Diarists must be able to dialogue among the journal sections with only themselves as guides.

      Tristine Rainer, mentioned earlier, is less critical of spontaneous entries. She sees the diary as a place for the in­tuitive and rational to form creative fusion.

She has discovered among all the journals she has collected and read some techniques and modes of expression utilized by the diarists. Many ex­amples are included in her book (Rain­er, 1978), illustrating such tools as guided imagery, dialogue, a list, the un­sent letter, a map of consciousness. An entire chapter is devoted to dreamwork and what it can tell us about ourselves and our future directions. Rainer points out that re-reading past journal entries can illuminate patterns of development and give us important clues to our in­terests and desires.

She is especially helpful in identify­ing common blocks in beginning to write and suggests ways of dealing with them. The judgment we bring to our writing is an important inhibitor. She emphasizes that the diary is no place to be perfect. The less shy we can be about writing our true feelings, the more intimate we can be with our­selves. Which will remove another in­hibitor–the fear that what we say on paper will be boring. Over time the diarist will reveal his or her natural writing style and will allow a natural voice to be heard in the contents.

Rainer encourages diarists to use what they already have–their own experience–and get at this in whatever way is easiest. As more is learned about the continued developmental growth of adults, the journal becomes an excellent means for adults to observe and better understand the stages of their own adult development.


Implications for Adult Education


In reviewing literature in the adult education field, emphasis and value are given to one's life experience. Writers such as Ron Gross and Allen Tough are interested in helping adults learn how to learn better. The first step Gross recommends is to Know Thy­self. He tells his readers, "Begin to pay attention to yourself as a changing, developing and growing person. Notice how you behave in different situations, how you respond to different people and problems," (Gross, 1977). With this knowledge adults become more clear on what concerns them most, par­ticularly as a learner.

Gross considers the learning log or diary as the most important tool for the learner, especially the learner who perceives his or her learning as lifelong and chooses to pursue learning in varied ways. The journal can be started with whatever is of most interest to the learner at the time–planning career goals, understanding personal relation­ships, or exploring unconscious realms of experience.

The individual's learning process becomes more apparent as experiences related to a learning project are re­corded. Idea fragments swimming around in the head find connections on paper and grow into other new and better ideas. In addition, the diary can be used as an evaluative tool for the learner to review past activities and project future directions.

Although Tough doesn't write di­rectly about a learning log, he does describe effective lifelong learners as being self-aware, self-reliant, and self-directed (Tough, 1971). He recom­mends that resources and assistance be designed to support these qualities in all adult learners. Tough is quite concerned that adult learners become more competent and confident in their learning. Many of them are excessively modest about their learning as well as weak in self-planning skills. He in­dicates that further study is needed to help people develop skills at planning and conducting their own learning projects.

The personal journal is one learning tool which can be an integral part of this process. Its application needs to be encouraged among learners as a means for stimulating thought and for plan­ning and evaluating learning projects, as well as an enrichment for one's whole life. In addition, the journal serves to keep adults connected with a true sense of self. In a pragmatic way, the journal never becomes obsolete; it is flexible, inexpensive, and uses what the learner already possesses–his or her own life story.




Gross, Ronald. A Handbook for The Lifelong Learner. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977.

May, Rollo. The Courage to Create. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Progoff, Ira. At a Journal Workshop. New York: Dia­logue House Library, 1975.

Rainer, Tristine. The New Diary. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, Inc., 1978.

Tough, Allen, The Adult's Learning Projects. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1971.




Book Chapters, Books, Book Reviews, and Monographs


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          Brockett, R. G., & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-direction in adult learning: Perspectives on theory, research, and practice. New York: Routledge.

          Brockett, R. G., & Hiemstra, R. (2004). Toward ethical practice. Malabar, FL: Krieger.

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          Charles, D. C. (1983). Adapting materials use to physical and psychological changes in older learners. In J. P. Wilson (Ed.), Materials for teaching adults: Selection, development, and use (New Directions for Continuing Education, No. 17), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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          Fischer, D. H. (1978). Growing old in America (Expanded Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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          Grabowski, S., & Mason, W. D. (Undated). Learning for aging. Washington, DC: Adult Education Association of the USA.

          Green, B. S. R. (1993). Gerontology and the construction of old age: A study in discourse analysis. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

          Gross, R. (1977). The lifelong learner. New York: Simon and Schuster.  

          Hayflick, L. (1994). How and why we age. New York: Ballantine Books.

          Hendricks, J. (1986). Aging in mass society: Myths and realities (3rd Ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.

          Hendricks, L. (1980). Seven steps to personal life history writing. Woodville, FL: Author, Box 260-B, 32362.

          Hess, B. B., & Markson, E. W. (1992). Growing old in America (4th Edition). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

          Hiemstra, R. (1975). The older adult and learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 117 371).      

          Hiemstra, R. (1980). Preparing human service practitioners to teach older adults (Information Series No. 209). Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State University, ERIC Clearinghouse for Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 193 529).

          Hiemstra, R. (1985). The older adult's learning projects. In D. B. Lumsden (Ed.), The older adult as learner. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing.    Hiemstra, R. (1988). Translating personal values and philosophy into practical action. In R. G. Brockett (Ed.), Ethical issues in adult education (pp. 178-194). New York: Teachers College Press. Available electronically:

          Hiemstra, R. (1990). Self-directed learning for older adults. In American Association for Retired Persons (Staff Editors), Resourceful aging: Today and tomorrow (Conference Proceedings, Volume V: Lifelong Education). Washington, DC: AARP.

          Hiemstra, R. (Ed.). (1991). Creative environments for effective adult learning (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 50). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

          Hiemstra, R. (1993). Three underdeveloped models for adult learning. In S. Merriam (Ed.), An update on adult learning theory (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 57), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Hiemstra, R. (1994). Lifelong education and personal growth. In A. Monk (Ed.), The Columbia retirement handbook. New York: Columbia University Press.  

          Hiemstra, R. (2013). Facilitating adult self-directed learning. In R. Hiemstra & P. Carré (Eds.), A feast of learning: International perspectives on adult learning and change (pp. 25-46).Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

          Hiemstra, R., & Brockett, R. G. (1994). From behaviorism to humanism: Incorporating self-direction in learning concepts into the instructional design process. In Long, H. B. & Associates, New ideas about self-directed learning. Norman, OK: Oklahoma Research Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education, University of Oklahoma

          Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Individualizing instruction: Making learning personal, powerful, and successful. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [Also see "Guiding Older Adult Learners," pp. 223-228, which summarizes some research related to educating older adults.]

          Hutchins, R. M. (1968). The learning society. New York: Frederick A. Praeger.

          Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling society.  New York: Harper & Row.

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          Kimmel, D. C. (1990). Adulthood and aging: Interdisciplinary developmental view (3rd Edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

          Knowles, M. (1975). Self-directed learning. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company.

          Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education (revised and updated). Chicago: Follett Publishing Company.

          Knowles, M. S. (1986). Using learning contracts. San Francisco: Jossey‑Bass.

          Knowles, M. S., & Associates. (1984). Andragogy in action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Larue, G. A. (1992). Geroethics: A new vision of growing old in America. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

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          Levinson, D. J. (1978). The seasons of a man's life. New York: Ballantine Books.

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          McClusky, H. Y. (ca. 1974). Education for aging: The scope of the field and perspectives for the future. In S. Grabowski & W. D. Mason (Eds.), Learning for aging (pp. 324-355). Washington, DC: Adult Education Association of the USA.

          McKhann, G. & Albert, M. (2002). Keep your brain young: The complete guide to physical and emotional health and longevity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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          Maslow, A. (1976). Education and peak experience. In C. D. Schlosser (Ed.), The person in education: A humanistic approach. New York: Macmillan.

          Merriam, S., & Lumsden, D. B. (1985). Educational needs and interests of older learners. In D. B. Lumsden (Ed.), The older adult as learner (pp. 51-72). Washington, D. C.: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.

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          Okun, M. A. (Ed.). (1982). Programs for older adults (New Directions for Continuing Education, Number 14). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Peterson, D. A. (1983). Facilitating education for older learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Peterson, D. A. (Ed.). (1987). A national survey of gerontology instruction in American institutions of higher education. Washington, DC: Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

          Plopper, M. (1981). Mental health in the elderly. In R. H. Davis (Ed.), Aging: Prospects and issues. Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press.

          Post, J. A. (1992). Gerontology and geriatrics libraries and collections in the United States and Canada: A history, description, and directory. New York: Greenwood Press.

          Progoff, I. (1975). At a journal workshop. New York: Dialogue House Library.

          Rainer, T. (1978). The new diary. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, Inc.

          Roy, F. H. (1992). The encyclopedia of aging and the elderly. New York: Facts on File.

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          Skinner, B. F. (1971). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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          Smith, T. B., Mack, C., & Tittnich, E. (1993). Generations together: A job-training curriculum for older workers in child care. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. [Note: A series of handout masters comes with the book.]

          Spicker, S. G., Woodward, K. M., & Van Tassel, D. D. (Eds.). (1978). Aging and the elderly: Humanistic perspectives in gerontology. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.

          Taylor, A. (1926). Plato: The man and his work. London: Methuen & Co., Ltd.

          Thorndike, E. L. (1928). Adult learning. New York: Macmillan.

          Tough, A. (1971). The adult's learning projects. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (there also is a 1979 edition).

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Journal Articles


          Alpaugh, P. K., Renner, V. J., & Birren, J. E. (1976). Age and creativity: Implications for education and teachers. Educational Gerontology, 1, 17-40.

Arsenault, N., Anderson, G., & Swedburg, R. (1998). Understanding older adults in education: Decision-making and Elderhostel. Educational Gerontology, 24, 101-114.

          Babic, A. L, & Crangle, M. L. (1987). Simulation techniques for education in gerontology: An exercise in experiential learning. Educational Gerontology, 13, 183-191.

          Bass, S. A. (1986). Matching educational opportunities with the able elderly. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 9(5), 4-7.

          Ballester, L, Orte, C., March, M. X., & Oliver, J. L. (2005). The importance of socioeducational relationships in university programs for older adult students. Educational Gerontology, 31, 253-261.

Battersby, D. (1985). Education in later life: What does it mean? Convergence, 18, 75-81.

          Blanchard-Fields, F. (1986). Attributional processes in adult development. Educational Gerontology, 12, 291-300.

          Bolton, E. B. (1978). Cognitive and non-cognitive factors that affect learning in older adults and their implications for instruction. Educational Gerontology, 3, 331-344.

          Brady, E. M. (1983). Personal growth and the Elderhostel experience. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 7(3), 11-13, 26.

          Brady, E. M. (1984). Demographic and educational correlates of self-reported learning among older students. Educational Gerontology, 10, 25-38.

          Brady, E. M. (1990). Redeemed from time: Learning through autobiography. Adult Education Quarterly, 41, 43-52.

          Brockett, R. G. (1985a). The relationship between self-directed learning readiness and life satisfaction among older adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 35, 194-209.

          Brockett, R. G. (1985b). Tips for the practitioner on writing book reviews. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 8(5), 29-30.          Brookfield, S. D. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Brookfield, S. D. (1995) Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

          Catchen, H., & Lewittes, H. (1993). Toward a framework for understanding minority gerontological internships. Educational Gerontology, 19, 31-42.

          Cattell, R. B. (1963). Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 54, 1‑22.

          Cattell, R. B. (1968). Fluid and crystallized intelligence. Psychology Today, 3, 56‑62.

          Cavanaugh, J. C., & Murphy, N. Z. (1986). Personality and metamemory correlates of memory performance in younger and older adults. Educational Gerontology, 12, 385-394.

          Chaffin, A. J. & Harlow, S. D. (2005). Cognitive learning applied to older adult learners and technology. Educational Gerontology, 31, 301-329.

          Coon, V. E., & Earles, J. L. (1994). Adult age differences in long-term memory for performed activities. Journal of Gerontology, 49, 32-34.

          Covey, H. C. (1983). Higher education and older people: Some theoretical considerations, Part I. Educational Gerontology, 9, 95-109.

          Davenport, J. A. (1986). Learning style and its relationship to gender and age among Elderhostel participants. Educational Gerontology, 12, 205-218.

          Day, M., & James, J. (1984). Margin and the adult learner. MPAEA Journal of Adult Education, 13(1), 1-5.   

          Downs, H. (August 21, 1994). Must we age? Parade: The Sunday Newspaper Magazine, 4-7.

          Feldman, S., & Sweeney, S. W. (1989). Lifelong education for lifelong needs. Adult Learning, 1(3), 14-17.

          Fisher, J. C. (1985). Liberal arts colleges and the older student. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 8(6), 6-7.

          Fisher, J. C. (1986). Participation in educational activities by active older adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 36, 202-210.

          Fisher, J. C. (1993). A framework for describing developmental change among older adults. Adult education quarterly, 43, 76-89.

          Galbraith, M. W., & James, W. B. (1984). Assessment of dominant perceptual learning styles of older adults. Educational Gerontology, 10, 449-458.

          Galbraith, M. W.  & Zdorkowski, R. T. (1984). Heuristic models of elder abuse: Implications for the practitioner. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 7(8), 16-21, 24.

          Glass, J. C., Jr., & Smith, J. L. (1985). Television as an educational and outreach medium for older adults. Educational Gerontology, 11, 247-260.

          Glendenning, F., & Battersby, D. (1990). Educational gerontology and education for older adults: A statement of first principles. Australian Journal of Adult and Community Education, 30(1), 38-44.

          Greenberg, C., & Powers, S. M. (1987). Memory improvement among adult learners. Educational Gerontology, 13, 263-280.

          Harvey, R., & Jahns, I. R. (1988). Using advance organizers to facilitate learning among older adults. Educational Gerontology, 14, 89-93.

          Hausafus, C. O., Ralston, P., & DeLanoit. (1985). Rural older adults: Participation in and perceptions of an educational delivery system. Educational Gerontology, 11, 211-224.

          Heisel, M. A. (1985). Assessment of learning activity level in a group of Black aged. Adult Education Quarterly, 36, 1-14.

          Heisel, M. A., & Larson, G. (1984). Literacy and social milieu: Reading behavior of the Black Elderly. Adult Education Quarterly, 34, 63-70.

          Hentschel, D. & Eisen, M. J. (2002). Developing older adults as community leaders. Adult Learning, 13(4), 12-14.

          Hiemstra, R. (1976). The older adult's learning projects. Educational Gerontology, 1, 331‑341.

          Hiemstra, R. (1977-78). Instrumental and expressive learning:  Some comparisons. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 8, 161‑168.

          Hiemstra, R. (1980). Howard Yale McClusky: Adult education pioneer and statesman. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 4(2), 5‑7, 25.

          Hiemstra, R. (1981). The contributions of Howard Yale McClusky to an evolving discipline of educational gerontology. Educational Gerontology, 6, 209-226.

          Hiemstra, R. (1982). Elderly interests in the expressive domain. Educational Gerontology, 8, 143-154.

          Hiemstra, R. (1987). Turning research on older persons into daily practice. Perspectives on Aging, 16(1), 17-19.

          Hiemstra, R. (2011). Self-directed learning: Individualizing instruction – most still do it wrong! International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, 8(1), 46-59. Retrieved from

Hiemstra, R., Essman, E., Henry, N., & Palumbo, D. (1987). Computer-assisted analysis of qualitative gerontological research. Educational Gerontology, 13, 417-426.

          Hiemstra, R. (2013). Self-Directed Learning: Why do most instructors still do it wrong? International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, 10(1), 23-34. Retrieved from

Hiemstra, R., Goodman, M., Middlemiss, M. A., Vosko, R. & Ziegler, N. (1983). How older persons are portrayed in television advertising: Implications for Educators. Educational Gerontology, 9, 111-122.

          Hole, W. C. (1989). Up front: The older learner. Adult Learning, 1(3), 6.

          Hooper, J. O., Hooper, F. H., Colbert, K., & McMahan, R. (1986). Cognition, memory, and personality in elderly students. Educational Gerontology, 12, 219-230.

          Hoopes, R. (1991). You oughta be on TV. Modern Maturity, 34(3), 48-50, 95.

          Hoot, J. L., & Hayslip, B., Jr. (1983). Microcomputers and the elderly: New directions for self-sufficiency and life-long learning. Educational Gerontology, 9, 493-499.

          Johnson, C. J. (1986). Educational content, levels of education, and disciplines needed for interdisciplinary gerontological education. Educational Gerontology, 12, 477-488.

          Jones, E. E. (1979). Adult education and the older adult. Educational Gerontology, 4, 349-354.

          Jones, J. E. (1980). Teaching art to the elderly: Research and practice. Educational Gerontology, 5, 17-31.

          Kingston, A. J., & Drotter, M. W. (1983). A comparison of elderly college students in two geographically different areas. Educational Gerontology, 9, 399-403.

          Kinney, M. B. (1989). Elderhostel: Can it work at your institution? Adult Learning, 1(3), 21-24.

          Klick, A. W. (1985). Issues of widowhood: Implications for continuing education planning. Educational Gerontology, 11, 155-160.

          Knowles, M. S. (1989). Learning after retirement. Adult Learning, 1(3), 8-9.

          Knowlton, M. P. (1977). Liberal arts: The Elderhostel plan for survival. Educational Gerontology, 2, 87‑94.

          Krause, D. (1987). Careers in gerontology: Occupational fact or academic fancy? Gerontologist, 27(1), 30-33.

          Kreitlow, B. K. (1989). Old & new: An aging America means new learning patterns, program needs. Adult Learning, 1(3), 7.

          Kreitlow, D. J., & Kreitlow, B. K. (1989). Careers after 60: Choices in retirement. Adult Learning, 1(3), 10-13.

          Landerholm, E., & Nelson, N. J. (1985). Training Hispanic older adults in childcare work. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 8(7), 6-8, 26.

          Leclerc, G. J. (1985). Understanding the educational needs of older adults: A new approach. Educational Gerontology, 11, 137-144.

          Long, H. B. (1983). Academic performance, attitudes, and social relations in intergenerational college classes. Educational Gerontology, 9, 471-481.

          Long, H. B., & Rossing, B. E. (1979). Tuition waiver plans for older Americans in postsecondary public education institutions. Educational Gerontology, 4, 161‑174.

          McDaniel, T. R. (1984). Educating the aging: Problems and prospects. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 7(7), 12-13, 26.

          McKinlay, R. W., & Baumhover, L. A. (Eds.). (1986). Gerontological education: Future issues and trends. Educational Gerontology, 12, entire issue devoted to the topic.

          McWhinney, W. (1990). Education for the third quarter of life. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 38(2), 14-20.

          Main, K. (1979). The power-load-margin formula of Howard Y. McClusky as the basis for a model of teaching. Adult Education, 30, 19-33.    

          Marcus, E. E. (1978). Effects of age, sex, and status on perception of the utility of educational participation. Educational Gerontology, 3, 295-319.

          Maxwell, R. B. (1991). Education: Window to fulfillment. Modern Maturity, 34(3), 10-11.

          Merriam, S. (1977). Interviewing the aged: Some considerations for the adult educator. Adult Leadership, 25(7), 215-216).

          Merriam, S. B. & Mohamad, M. (2000). How cultural values shape learning in older adulthood: The case of Malaysia. Adult Education Quarterly, 51, 45-63.

          Ogle, S. E. (1986). Memory and aging: A review and application of current theories. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 9(6), 8-10, 27.

          Okun, M. A. (1977). Implications of geropsychological research for the instruction of older adults. Adult Education, 27, 139-155.

          Okun, M. A., & DiVesta, F. J. (1976). Cautiousness in adulthood as a function of age and instruction. Journal of Gerontology, 31, 571-576.

          Okun, M. A., & Siegler, I. C. (1977). The perception of outcome-effort covariation in younger and older men. Educational Gerontology, 2, 27-32.

          Ostwald, S. K., & Williams, H. Y. (1985). Optimizing learning in the elderly: A model. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 9(1), 10-15, 27.

          Oyedeji, L. (1992). Education for the elderly: Coping with learning in adult years. International Review of Education, 38, 363-373.

          Peterson, D. A. (1986). Extent of gerontology instruction in American institutions of higher education. Educational Gerontology, 12, 519-529.

          Peterson, D. A., & Eden, D. Z. (1981). Cognitive style and the older learner. Educational Gerontology, 7, 57-66.  

          Quinlan, R. A. (1989). Programming for mature learners. Adult Learning, 1(2), 12-14.

          Ralston, P. A. (1981). Educational needs and activities of older adults: Their relationship to senior center programs. Educational Gerontology, 7, 231-244.

          Rodgers, W., & Herzog, R. (1987). Interviewing older adults: The accuracy of factual information. Journal of Gerontology, 42, 387-394.

          Romaniuk, J. G. (1984). Tuition waiver policies for older adults: What are the assumptions? Educational Gerontology, 10, 1‑11.

          Schaie, K. W. (1992). The impact of methodological changes in gerontology. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 35, 19-29.

          Schmidt, I. W., Berg, I. J., & Deelman, B. G. (2001). Prospective memory training in older adults. Educational Gerontology, 27, 455-478.

          Shadden, B. B., & Raiford, C. A. (1984). The communication education of older persons: Prior training and utilization of information sources. Educational Gerontology, 10, 83-97.

          Sheppard, N. (1983). Vocational education needs assessment of older Americans: Methodology and some findings. Educational Gerontology, 9, 359-376.

          Stokes, L. C., & Pankowski, M. L. (1988). Incidental learning of aging adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 38, 88-100.

          Thorson, J. A. (1989). She ain't heavy, she's my mother: On caring for older parents. Adult Learning, 1(3), 18-20.

          Wacks, V. Q. (1989). Life after death in the Elderhostel classroom. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 12(5), 23-24, 28.

          Walker, J. (1991). Older women and later life learning. Adults Learning (England), 2, 209-210.

          Wass, H., & Olejnik, S. F. (1983). An analysis and evaluation of research in cognition and learning among older adults. Educational Gerontology, 9, 323-337.

          Wendt, P. F., & Peterson, D. A. (1993). Gerontology: A case study in the evolution of professional education. Review of Higher Education, 16, 181-198.

          White, G. G., & Rose, C. (1988). Empowering the older adult learner: Community education as a delivery system. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 11(7), 20-22, 30.

          Willis, S. L. (1990). Introduction to the special section on cognitive training in later adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 26, 875-878.

          Withnall, A. (1990). Education and older adults: A state-of-the-art review. Adults Learning (England), 1, 255-256.

          Wolf, M. A. (1985). The experience of older learners in adult education. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 8(5), 8-11.

          Wolf, M. A. (1989). Techniques: Effective training for human service providers. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 12(7), 18-20.

          Wolf, M. A. (1992). Older adults & reminiscence in the classroom. Adult Learning, 3(8), 19-22.

          Wolf, M. A. (1993). Mentoring middle-aged women in the classroom. Adult Learning, 4(5), 8-9, 22.


In addition, following is a list of current and past journals you should consider reviewing (some journals may have changed names or be discontinued).