Guiding the oler adult learner

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GUIDING THE OLDER ADULT LEARNER

Roger Hiemstra

1980

A background paper developed for ERIC (ED 193 529)

Contents

PAGE
Introduction 01
The Problem 02
TEACHING OLDER ADULTS 04
Problems in Practice 04
A Teaching and Learning 07
Instructional Guidelines 11
Case Studies 17
REVIEW OF LITERATURE 27
The Older Adult as Learner 27
Older Adults Can Learn! 27
Learning Activity andAbility 29
Learning Needs and Obstacles 30
Teacher as Facilitator 31
Self-Directed Learning 32
Teaching Techniques and Strategies 33
COGNITIVE CAPACITY 34
Models, Stages, and Theories 34
Memory and Intellect 34
Organizational Abilities 35
Associational Abilities 37
Speed and Pacing 38
NON-COGNITIVE FACTORS 38
Interference 39
Meaningfulness 40
Hesitancy 40
Health 41
InstructionalProcedures 41
Educational Background of Learners 42
RESEARCH AND THE OLDER PERSON 43
Problems 43
Future Research Needs 44
SUMMARY 45
REFERENCES 47
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 58
APPENDIX A 61

OVERVIEW

INTRODUCTION

It will be no surprise to readers of this paper that the growth in the elderly population of the united states has been accelerating rapidly in the past two decades. That growthrate has been exceeded only by the interest of many people in the elderly population. A variety of human services practitioners have the older person as the very focus of their professional activities. Numerous volunteers spend considerable time each week with senior citizens. Educational specialists of various types are concerned with providing learning experiences for the older person. AsSheppard (1979) shows, educational opportunities for older people are on the increase. Numerous governmental employees direct their efforts toward seniors. Finally, researchers from both the physical and the social sciences continue the wide-ranging study of aging, the aged, and how to work with the aged.

It is this latter group that provides the base of information for this paper. However, it isno easy task interpreting the abundance of available research that is related in some way to working with and teaching the older person. Those research findings often are disparate in nature and frequently disagreement is found between researchers working on similar problems. Difficult, too, is the job of culling from the literature concrete implications for practice because new findings replaceolder knowledge almost daily.

Thus, it is the purpose of this paper to present a picture of existing knowledge regarding how one teaches the older person. By no means will it be possible to cover everything of importance to the teaching and learning process. Furthermore, the intended primary audience for this paper is the human services practitioner. Admittedly, this is a broad-based termdesigned to cover a variety of people such as social workers, extension specialists, librarians,

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leisure service providers, volunteer workers, counselors, and aging network employees. However, it is assumed that many such individuals will not have had much, and in many instances, any, professional training in working with the older person as a teacher or manager of educational experiences.Subsequently, a special effort will be made to outline in practical terms what can be suggested from the research and from available knowledge regarding the design and implementation of effective education. Hopefully, enough synthesis, knowledge, and resources will be provided to stimulate many primary audience readers toward further study, behavioral change in their practice, and creativethinking regarding how to work effectively with older persons.

Secondary audiences, such as adult educators, educational gerontologists, and a variety of researchers also should find the information helpful in providing a review, synthesis, and interpretational base related to the state of the art. Such an audience can further the knowledge base by challenging, substantiating, and improving on...
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