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Self-Directed Learning Projects by Older Learners: Roles for Educational Organizations in Initiating and Facilitating the Process

Description: Ways in which educational structures can initiate and facilitate older learners' self-directed learning projects are described in this study. The research was guided by questions related to the ways that educational organizations can facilitate the learning process for older learners. This study involved two distinct phases of research. In the first phase, a survey was administered to approximately 100 older learners at four organizations for senior citizens; the four organizations were Hillcrest Center for 55+, Golden Learning Opportunities and Workshop, Tulsa Senior Services, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program. The survey enabled the researcher to identify the 10 most frequented sites for gathering information related to the learning projects of senior citizens in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The survey respondents were volunteer participants from classes, social occasions, and other learning opportunities offered by the organizations. The survey produced three sites where older learners pursued learning activities. Phase two involved ethnographic techniques in order to identify and describe at each three sites specific educational structures that facilitated older learners' self-directed learning projects. The descriptions from each of the identified sites involved three data-collection techniques. The data-collection techniques used included interviews, observation, and artifact collection. The focus of this phase was to describe the educational structures that facilitated the development of learning projects endemic to each site as identified by the older learners. Notes taken during interviews and observations were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Interviews were also transcribed. The transcripts were transferred to a conceptually clustered matrix for each site. Analyses of the administrator interviews, participant interviews, educational opportunity observations, and artifact collection at each site revealed patterns and trends that represent the educational structures that appeal to older learners as they pursue learning projects. The findings indicate that four patterns or trends were common to each site. These four patterns included accessible materials, service-minded ...
Date: May 1996
Creator: Webb, Holbrook Lawson