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ERIC Number: ED561658
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 106
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-3340-5
Choosing Learning in Later Life: Constructions of Age and Identity among Lifelong Learners
McWilliams, Summer
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Florida State University
Lifelong learning programs for older adults are expanding in university communities, given the growing emphasis on successful aging in our society. This dissertation consists of two articles that examine data from ethnographic research in a southeastern lifelong learning institute associated with a state university. Data include observations over six semesters in various courses, content analysis of program materials, and interviews with twenty-nine student members and three staff members. The results of the first article reveal three main strategies through which participants constructed a lifelong learner identity. These strategies included distancing the LLI from older adult programs considered less academic, embracing a love of learning without the need for degrees, and depicting themselves as individuals who have always been lifelong learners. The second article demonstrates how aging talk manifested and reflected stereotypical notions of aging within the LLI. Members avoided direct references to LLI as an age group, focusing on positive connotations of aging when distinguishing the group by age. They only acknowledged the negative side of aging through jokes. However, the themes of retirement and health encouraged more direct discussion of aging and demonstrated gendered orientations. Women's retirement and health talk showed greater resistance to labeling as old, while men's reflected greater acceptance of an aging self. These findings emphasize members' agency in constructing standards for aging that allowed for the maintenance of positive self-perceptions. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A