Learning needs of the elderly: Perceptions among educators

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Educational Gerontology


Public educators of adults, because of their locally based programs, are strategically positioned to facilitate the learning of large numbers of older people. Little is known, however, about how these educators view the learning needs of elders who live in their communities. We conducted a telephone interview survey, using fixed‐response and open‐ended questions, with 30 directors of public adult education programs in Maine. The instrument assessed how important particular educational goals were for these directors at the time of the interview and how important each should be in the future. We examined both outcome and process variables. Health education was the outcome factor with the largest discrepancy between present and future program goals. Outreach to elders not presently participating in adult education programs was the process factor with the largest discrepancy. We discuss implications of this research for adult education and for potential partnerships between local educators and gerontologists.